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What the Norfolk State community needs to know about coronavirus

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP)

Who is at risk?  Persons living in or near Wuhan City, China, persons traveling in that area in the past two weeks or who have had contact with someone who has been in that area or contact with someone diagnosed with Coronavirus infection.

Current Virginia Risk Level: Low — no identified cases in Virginia as of 1/30/2020.

What is the Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)? Coronaviruses are viruses that normally only affect animals. However, like prior SARS and MERS outbreaks, the virus can mutate and get the ability to infect humans. Spread can be from animals to humans and humans to humans.

How is it diagnosed? Per CDC guidelines, two criteria are needed: Fever, lower respiratory symptoms (cough, difficulty breathing) and meeting the “Who is at Risk” criteria (above). No current rapid test is available. Health department/CDC have diagnostic tests.

Call ahead to your doctor’s office or hospital emergency room if you think you have been exposed so they can limit your exposure to others. A hospital is better equipped to provide isolation measures.

How can I reduce my risk?  Follow the same universal precautions as for influenza:

  • Stay home if you have a fever and cough
  • Cover your mouth (use a facemask)
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Use tissues and discard after use
  • Avoid shaking hands and touching your face
  • Avoid nonessential travel to China (Travel Alert Level 3)

How can I stay informed? The CDC website keeps the most up-to-date information and recommendations.