According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were five confirmed cases and 165 people being monitored for the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the United States as of January 29. 36 states have confirmed they are monitoring people for possible cases of the virus.
The World Health Organization was first alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, on December 31, 2019. These respiratory illnesses did not match any known strain of pneumonia or other viruses. Chinese health officials confirmed a week later that the virus was new, and that it belonged to the same family of viruses as the common cold, SARS and MERS.
The CDC is monitoring this developing situation and providing recommendations and updates that can be found here. These recommendations include avoiding all non-essential travel to the Hubei Province of China, including Wuhan. This recommendation is the result of widespread presence of the virus in this area and that medical facilities are currently overwhelmed by the number of patients requiring treatment for the virus. The CDC has also published safety tips for those traveling to other areas of China and this information can be found here.
Though the overall threat to the U.S. population remains low, there are steps everyone can take to ensure that the virus does not spread. Aside from avoiding travel to areas hardest hit by the virus, it is important to follow precautions that help prevent the spread of other viruses such as colds and influenza. It appears that Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) can spread from person to person, and the first known case of this happening in the U.S. was confirmed on January 30. Simple precautions include avoiding exposure to individuals who have the virus, washing hands before touching your eyes, nose and mouth and washing your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. As with any other virus, if you are sick, stay home. Use a tissue to cover your mouth when coughing or your nose when sneezing. Immediately deposit used tissues into a trash bin. Disinfect any frequently touched surfaces.
Symptoms of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The illness can progress to pneumonia in both lungs, which can be fatal. There is currently no preventative vaccine or antiviral treatment for the virus, though research into the development of a vaccine and treatment options is ongoing.