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Coronavirus Outbreak
2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Wuhan, China

Lady with flu symptoms

Last updated: February 6, 2020

This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation.
For the most up-to-date information and guidelines, refer to the CDC website.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The new coronavirus was identified by Chinese authorities. As of the end of January 2020, thousands of cases have been confirmed cases in China, including cases outside Wuhan City. Additional cases have been identified in a growing number of other countries, including the U.S. As of January 31, there have been over 200 patients under investigation in the U.S.


The coronavirus continues to expand globally in a rapid fashion. The virus spread from person-to-person in many parts of China, and new infections with 2019-nCoV have been reported globally, including in the U.S.

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people (CDC, 2020).

Source and Transmission

2019-nCoV is a beta coronavirus. It is new coronavirus that has not been previously identified, although it belongs to the same family as MERS and SARs. Transmission to patients in the China outbreak suggests an animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animas, indicating person-to-person spread. Chinese officials report that sustained person-to-person spread in the community is occurring in China.
More detailed information about 2019-CoV transmission can be found on the CDC website (CDC, 2020).
Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. The four main sub-groupings of coronaviruses are: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta.
Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. There are seven coronaviruses, and 1-4 are the most common that can infect people:

  1. 229E (alpha coronavirus)
  2. NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
  3. OC43 (beta coronavirus)
  4. HKU1 (beta coronavirus)
  5. MERS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS)
  6. SARS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS)
  7. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Situation in U.S.

Imported cases of 2019-nCoV infection in people have been detected in the U.S. No person-to-person spread has been detected with this virus at the time, and this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.
CDC updates the map with confirmed cases in the U.S. daily. (CDC, 2020).

Coronavirus infographic

Coronavirus Symptoms and Illness Severity

The complete clinical picture with regard to 2019-nCoV is still not fully clear. Reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with few to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.
Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

CDC believes at this time that symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure (CDC, 2020).

Testing a patients blood.

Risk Assessment

Outbreaks of novel virus infections among people are always of public health concern. The risk from these outbreaks depends on:

  • Characteristics of the virus
  • The severity of resulting illness
  • The medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus

At this time, some people, including healthcare workers caring for 2019-nCoV patients and other close contacts, will have an increased risk of infection. For the general American public, the immediate risk from 2019-nCoV is considered low (CDC, 2020).

What to Expect

This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation. More cases spread person-to-person are expected to be identified worldwide.

Lady wearing a face mask

World Health Organization’s Prevention and Protection Advice

World Health Organization (WHO) provides these standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses. These include hand and respiratory hygiene and safe food practices:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue; throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough.
  • If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your healthcare provider.
  • When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct, unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.
  • Avoid the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products; raw meat, milk, or animal organs should be handled with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.(WHO, 2020)

CDC believes at this time that symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure (CDC, 2020).

Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface.

CDC Response

  • CDC is closely monitoring this situation and is working with the WHO and state and local public health partners to respond to this emerging public health threat.
  • The goal of the ongoing U.S. public health response is to contain this outbreak and prevent sustained spread of 2019-nCov in this country.
  • CDC established a 2019-nCoV Incident Management Structure on January 7, 2020. On January 21, 2020, CDC activated its Emergency Response System to better provide ongoing support to the 2019-nCoV response.
  • On January 27, 2020 CDC issued updated travel guidance for China, recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to all of the country (Level 3 Travel Health Notice).
  • CDC and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are continuing to conduct enhanced entry screening of passengers who have been in Wuhan within the past 14 days at 5 designated U.S. airports. Given travel out of Wuhan has been shut down, the number of passengers who meet this criteria are dwindling.
  • Going forward, CBP officials will monitor for travelers with symptoms compatible with 2019-nCoV infection and a travel connection with China and will refer them to CDC staff for evaluation at all 20 U.S. quarantine stations.
  • At the same time, ALL travelers from China will be given CDC’s Travel Health Alert Notice, educating those travelers about what to do if they get sick with certain symptoms within 14 days after arriving in the United States.
  • CDC issued an updated interim Health Alert Notice (HAN) Advisory to inform state and local health departments and health care providers about this outbreak on January 17, 2020.
  • CDC has deployed multidisciplinary teams to Washington, Illinois, California, and Arizona to assist health departments with clinical management, contact tracing, and communications.
  • CDC has developed a real time Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) test that can diagnose 2019-nCoV in respiratory and serum samples from clinical specimens. On January 24, 2020, CDC publicly posted the assay protocol for this test. Currently, testing for this virus must take place at CDC, but in the coming days and weeks, CDC will share these tests with domestic and international partners through the agency’s International Reagent Resource external icon.
  • CDC uploaded the entire genome of the virus from all five reported cases in the United States to GenBank.
  • CDC also is growing the virus in cell culture, which is necessary for further studies, including for additional genetic characterization.(CDC, 2020)

CDC Recommends

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