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Scary new human Coronavirus

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some cause illness in humans, and others cause illness in animals, such as bats, camels, and civets. Human coronaviruses cause mild respiratory illnesses (runny nose, muscle aches, sore throat). Coronaviruses are thought to cause up to 30% of common cold cases.

2. What is the 2019 novel or Wuhan coronavirus? Where did it come from?

Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve to infect and spread among humans, causing more serious diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which emerged in 2002, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which emerged in 2012. A novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. It was first identified in China in December 2019.

3. How does the virus spread?

While it appears the virus originally emerged from an animal source, it is spreading from person-to-person. Transmission is most likely via respiratory droplets. It’s not clear how easily the 2019 novel coronavirus spreads from person-to-person.

4. How do you test a person for 2019 novel coronavirus?

Currently, diagnostic testing can only be performed at the CDC in Atlanta with NJ Department of Health guidance. The commercial tests available for respiratory viruses detect the common strains of coronavirus which cause the common cold but not the 2019 novel coronavirus. These common coronavirus strains usually cause mild disease and are different than the novel strain causing the current outbreak. No additional precautions are needed for common coronavirus patients.

5. What are the symptoms and complications that the 2019 novel coronavirus can cause?

Current symptoms reported for patients with 2019 novel coronavirus include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Some people may have a mild infection. Others may develop pneumonia and require hospitalization. It is unknown how long symptoms take to appear, but it appears to be between 10 and 14 days. Better understanding of the infection will emerge with further investigation of the cases in China

6. How do you screen a person for 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?

The simple travel screen questions to use are:

* Did you travel to China in the past 21 days or had close contact with someone who traveled to China?

* Do you have new onset of fever and respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing)?

If the answer is yes to both questions, then the patient may be at risk for having the novel coronavirus infection.

7. What are the treatments?

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for the 2019 novel coronavirus infection. People infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.

8. Is it safe to travel to China?

CDC has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice recommending to avoid all nonessential travel to all of China.

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