Updated information about the coronavirus outbreak, and where to learn more

This scanning electron microscope image shows 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes the coronavirus, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab. (Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease)

On Jan. 21, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Washington State Department of Health announced the first case in the U.S. of 2019 novel coronavirus was identified in Snohomish County.

The patient recently returned from Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, where an outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus has been ongoing since December. The patient has since recovered.

While the current situation poses a public health threat, the Washington State Department of Health says it has no evidence the virus is spreading in Washington so the risk to the general public is low.

Symptoms of coronavirus are similar to flu or colds and may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • A general feeling of being unwell

If you have traveled to/from Wuhan City, China, and have these symptoms, contact a health care provider.

Human coronaviruses are most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • The air by coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
  • Rarely, fecal contamination with coronavirus present

There are steps people should take to reduce their risk of getting and spreading any viral respiratory infections. These include:

  • 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, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
  • Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill.

The Washington State Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

The state health department also has a page that it updates daily with the following information:

  • The number of confirmed (positive) 2019 novel coronavirus cases in Washington.
  • The number of persons under investigation (PUI) in Washington that have tested negative.
  • The number of PUIs with pending test results.
  • The total number of PUIs tested.
  • The number of people who are currently being monitored due to having close contact with a person who is confirmed to have 2019 novel coronavirus.

You can learn more here.

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