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DOH provides guidance to healthcare providers for Novel Coronavirus outbreak in China

The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) is advising physicians statewide to be alert for patients who have traveled from Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The department sent out a detailed medical advisory to healthcare providers today on reporting, testing, specimen collection, and interim healthcare infection control recommendations for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Providers are advised to notify the DOH Disease Outbreak Control Division immediately if a patient meets the case criteria.

The DOH is also advising everyone (six months of age or older) and especially those who travel to receive a flu vaccination. Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist, said, “With the current flu activity, there will likely be crossover in clinical presentation so the more people vaccinated against flu, the more helpful that will be.”

The DOH is closely monitoring the outbreak of 2019-nCoV occurring in China and regularly coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to issuing a Medical Advisory today to ensure all clinical providers are informed, the DOH is coordinating with Emergency Medical Service personnel/first responders, the Department of Transportation, and infection control partners in medical facilities throughout the state. DOH is also monitoring its well-established respiratory surveillance network which reviews flu activity in the state. Online resources for the 2019-nCoV are posted at https://health.hawaii.gov/prepare/cdc-issues-warning-about-pneumonia-cases-in-wuhan-china-caused-by-novel-coronavirus/.

An outbreak of a 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China has been developing since December 2019. This outbreak now includes more than 300 confirmed infections and several deaths in China with confirmed cases also in Thailand, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States (one case in Washington State). While human-to-human transmission appears limited, the situation continues to evolve. Nearly all travelers from China enter the state from other U.S. or international ports of entry that are being monitored.

If you have traveled to Wuhan and feel sick, you should do the following:

  1. Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  2. Stay home. Except for seeking medical care, avoid contact with others.
  3. Not travel while sick.
  4. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  5. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

For more information, including information for clinicians and public health professionals, please go to the following CDC and WHO webpages:

  1. wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/watch/novel-coronavirus-china
  2. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/novel-coronavirus-2019.html
  3. www.who.int/csr/don/05-january-2020-pneumonia-of-unkown-cause-china/en/

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