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COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Last updated February 17, 2020

If you’ve turned on the television, read your Twitter timeline, or chatted with colleagues, you’ve no doubt heard concerns and conversations about the recent surge of novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV. Coronavirus is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness globally. CHEST has pulled together these resources and materials for the medical teams, caretakers, the public, and media interested or impacted by 2019-nCoV. We will continue to update resources as new information is available.

What is a coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a large family of viruses often found in several species of animals-- including camels, bats, cattle and cats. According to the CDC, “animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people, such as with Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and now with 2019-nCoV.”

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(Image credit: CDC)

The 2019-nCoV coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Early cases appeared to have a link to large seafood and animal markets suggesting animal-to-human spread, but subsequent cases are being reported by patients with no exposure to such markets-- suggesting human-to-human spread is occurring. The new, or novel, virus had not been previously detected in humans prior to the first report in December 2019 in China.

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According to the CDC, “most often, spread from person-to-person happens among close contacts (about 6 feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s currently unclear if a person can get 2019-nCoV by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.”

Coronavirus incubation period is between 1 and 14 days, is transmitted person-to-person, and it is believed that every one person infected infects another two to three additional people.

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CDC does not currently (as of February 5, 2020) recommend the use of face masks among the general public. While limited person-to-person spread among close contacts has been detected, this virus is not currently spreading in the community in the United States.

What are the symptoms of the 2019-nCov coronavirus?

  • Mild symptoms are cold-like in presentation-- including fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
  • Older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease. In these more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.

How can coronavirus be prevented?

There are currently no vaccines for nCov-2019.

The CDC recommends the following everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

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  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing, and thoroughly cooking eggs and meat.

Is it safe to travel? What travel restrictions are in place?


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Top 5 Healthcare Preparation tips for 2019-nCoV

FAQ: Caring for suspected 2019-nCoV patients

Q: What precautions should clinicians take?

  • Wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) at all times including face mask with shield
  • Place mask on patient while awaiting bed in hospital

Q: How do we diagnose 2019-nCoV?

  • If 2019-nCoV is suspected, contact your local health department immediately. They will assist you in contacting the CDC and getting samples to the CDC for testing.
  • Diagnosis by confirmational PCR testing is only available by the CDC.

Q: What should one do if they have been exposed to a confirmed case of coronavirus?

  • If you have been exposed case, call your local health department immediately, avoid contact with others (self-quarantine)

Coronavirus commentary and information from the American College of Chest Physicians

  • Twitter Chat: Join us on Thursday, February 13, at 8 pm CT on Twitter to discuss nCoV-2019. In this month’s #CHESTChat, members of CHEST’s Disaster Response and Global Health NetWork will join us to discuss this novel coronavirus and help you prepare for an infectious pathogen outbreak at your institution.
  • Podcast: CHEST hosts a discussion with the authors upon release of a guideline, to add context and commentary to the issues and challenges facing clinicians. Care of the Critically Ill and Injured During Pandemics and Disasters: Updated CHEST Consensus Statement (September 2014)
    • Duration: 43 min
    • Moderator: D. Kyle Hogarth, MD, FCCP, Podcast Editor, CHEST
    • Participants: Michael D. Christian, MD, FRCPC, FCCP; Niranjan Kissoon, MBBS, FRCPC; Christian E. Sandrock, MD, MPH, FCCP

Coronavirus in the journal CHEST

Research on 2019 novel coronavirus

Resources for the medical community

Coronavirus in the news

Media resources

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