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Public Safety Alert: Coronavirus Outbreak

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak caused by a coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The virus strain, called the 2019 Novel (New) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), has been confirmed in at least 500 cases in China, with additional cases identified in a growing number of countries. The first case in the United States was announced on Jan. 21, 2020 in Washington state. Learn more at www.health.mil.

While coronaviruses cause illness mostly in animals, some can spread to humans. Symptoms include flu-like illness (fever, cough, difficulty breathing). At least nine deaths have been tied to 2019-nCoV; however, the severity and risk of spreading has not been fully determined yet.

If you have traveled to affected countries and may have been exposed and you develop flu-like symptoms, contact your primary doctor immediately. If your primary doctor is not available, TRICARE beneficiaries can go to any TRICARE-authorized urgent care center or if necessary, an emergency department. (If unsure, contact the Military Health System’s Nurse Advice Line.) Additionally, if you suspect you have been exposed, contact your local public health department as soon as practical.  

For health care providers: 

For those planning travel to Wuhan, China.

  • View the CDC’s current travel notice: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/watch/novel-coronavirus-china.  
  • Avoid sick people, sick or dead animals and animal markets. 
  • Wash hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. 
  • Older travelers and those with underlying health condition: Consult with your primary care provider prior to travel, as you are at an increased risk.

For travelers already in Wuhan or other locations where the virus may be present.

  • If you begin to feel sick with cough, fever or difficulty breathing, seek medical care immediately. If possible, call ahead to warn the facility about your recent travel and symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others and do not travel while sick. 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or garment sleeve (not your hands) when coughing and sneezing. 
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

For travelers returning from areas with the virus.

The CDC began screening entry of passengers on direct connecting flights from Wuhan, China to the main air ports of entry in the United States (Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York) with planned expansion to Chicago and Atlanta. All passengers from this area of China will be routed to and screened at these five airports.

United States residents who travel to other countries where this outbreak has occurred may be screened upon re-entry to the US. 

For Washington State residents.

The first confirmed case of coronavirus was identified in a recent traveler from Wuhan, China who became ill and was treated in a Washington state hospital. The patient was suspected to have 2019-nCoV based on their symptoms and travel history. A CDC and local health department team are reaching out to those who were in close contact with this patient for screening and surveillance.

This outbreak is in the early stages and more details are expected as the investigations continue. For the most up-to-date information, visit the CDC’s website



Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html