Coronavirus is a common respiratory virus, with symptoms similar to a common cold, that affects most people at some point during their lives. In 2019, a new strain of coronavirus, called COVID-19, or 2019 Novel Coronavirus, began in the city of Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization has declared this strain an international pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control are monitoring the situation abroad and in the United States very closely. This is a rapidly changing situation and the risks for the virus change daily. You can find the latest updates available on CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website.
CDC is currently recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, South Korea, Iran, most European countries, and the UK and Ireland. If you or a member of your family has traveled to any of these countries recently and are showing signs of respiratory illness, contact your health provider immediately.
Know the Signs
You can help stop the spread of COVID-19 by knowing the signs and symptoms:
• Shortness of breath
Seek medical advice if you or anyone in your family develop symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.
Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
Preventing Respiratory Viruses
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus or COVID-19 infections. But your family can prevent the spread of respiratory viruses by taking the following actions:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
• 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.
The steps you and your family take to prevent respiratory viruses also prevent flu and common colds.
Remember that getting a flu shot every year also helps to prevent or decrease the severity of the flu virus.
Everyone has a role to play to slow the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing is one way to do this. Make sure that you and your family avoid crowded places and maintaining distance from others when possible. Over the next several weeks, you may see schools, shops, restaurants, and other establishments close to maintain social distancing. Be sure to follow local guidelines to ensure the health of your family and your community.
Learn more about COVID-19, including advisories for healthcare providers and public health professionals, via the CDC.