This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will update this interim guidance as needed and as additional information becomes available.
A novel coronavirus is a new kind of coronavirus that has not been previously identified. Coronaviruses usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold, though some can grow serious. SARS was a coronavirus that killed 774 people in 2002–03, while MERS is a coronavirus that has killed 861 people since 2012.
Those with COVID-19 experience mild to severe respiratory illness, with symptoms including fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Certain populations are at higher risk for coronaviruses, including elderly people and those with weakened immune systems. While COVID-19 has a lower mortality rate than previous outbreaks of SARS and MERS, it remains extremely dangerous for these groups.
COVID-19 is a global pandemic, having now spread to at least 90 other countries and territories, including the U.S. So many people have become infected now that you no longer have to have traveled to China or interact with someone who did in order to catch the virus; it is spreading locally, leading to drastic measures to try to stop it.
Reference: Dong E, Du H, Gardner L. An interactive web-based dashboard to track COVID-19 in real time. Lancet Infect Dis; published online Feb 19. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30120-1.
One major concern inside China is that health workers will be infected — so far, nearly 3,300 frontline health workers have been infected, and 13 have died. This underscores the importance of providing personal protective equipment, including goggles, gloves and suits.
In total, at least 17 cities around Wuhan have been put on lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus, sealing off some 50 million people. That’s roughly equivalent to a lockdown of the entire U.S. West Coast.