HEALTH ALERT: CORONAVIRUS UPDATE
FEBRUARY 6, 2020
RAPID CITY — There are many questions about the coronavirus. The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board has created this fact sheet to help answer some of them.
The New York Times has reported that so far 564 people have died from coronavirus in China.
As of this date, there are eleven confirmed cases of the fast-moving coronavirus in the United States. Six of the cases are in California, two in Illinois, and one each in Washington state, Arizona, and Massachusetts. That number is expected to rise. Yesterday the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notified Congress that it may shift up to $136 million to key agencies, including CDC, involved in the coronavirus response.
What is coronavirus?
Wuhan coronavirus, officially called 2019-nCoV, is a new virus in the family of coronaviruses which was originally transmitted to humans from animals in Wuhan, China. The virus spreads quickly from humans to humans through droplets from coughing and sneezing. Symptoms of the virus are identical to cold and flu; only a test at a hospital can determine if the cause of the symptoms are coronavirus.
How dangerous is it?
At this early stage Wuhan coronavirus has a 2% mortality rate, compared to 10% for SARS (another coronavirus) in 2002-2003, or <1% for common influenza. Most patients make a full recovery. However, transmission rates are extremely fast; there are more confirmed 2019-nCoV cases already than in the entire 9-month SARS outbreak. While there are currently no cases in South Dakota, pandemic conditions are expected so this is likely to change. Patients with the greatest risks are those who are immunosuppressed or have underlying health conditions.
Guidance for providers and health centers?
The most current guidance can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html, but in general, health care facilities and programs should review their infection control programs, ensure providers and staff are informed on the clinical features of 2019-nCoV, and follow CDC recommendations for reporting, testing, and specimen collection. The CDC website above includes hospital and healthcare providers preparedness checklists.
Guidance for patients?
Risk of infection in South Dakota is low, but is expected to rise. Use common everyday actions to prevent transmission of viruses, such as hand-washing with soap and water, and if you develop cold symptoms, go to a local health facility for testing. If you or a family member has a weakened immune system, seek immediate treatment for any cold or flu symptoms.
*The mission of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board is to provide quality public health support and health care advocacy to the tribal nations of the Great Plains by utilizing effective and culturally credible approaches.