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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Source and Spread of the Virus

There are many kind of coronaviruses, including some that cause the common cold.

But this deadly strain is called a “novel” coronavirus because it has not previously been identified in humans.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoVand now with the new virus (names SARS-CoV-2), SARS-CoV and now with the new virus (named SARS-CoV-2).

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. All three of these viruses have their origins in bats. The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir.

Early on, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread, Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. Person-to-person spread was subsequently reported outside Hubei and in countries outside China, including in the Unites States. Some international destination how have apparent community spreadwith the virus that causes COVID-19, meaning some people have been infected who are not sure how or where they became infected.

COVID-19 is unusual from several reasons:

-Scientists believe this type of coronavirus jumped from a different animal to humans, which is rare.

-It then became transmissible from human to human, which is even more rare.

-an infected person might now show symptoms fro up to 14 days after exposure. That’s especially worrisome because this novel coronavirus can be transmitted while a person still isn’t showing any symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

Fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and trouble breathing are some of the most common symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

“It can be more severe for some persons and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties,” the World Health Organization says.

“More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.”

Disease Transmission:

When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects, such as desk, tables or telephones. People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them. In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to flu.

A pandemic is inevitable. Now what?

It’s important that companies encourage sick employees to stay home, the CDC says.

The CDC encourages employees with symptoms of acute respiratory illness such as fevers or cough to stay home until they are without symptoms for at least 24 hours.

Make clear to employees that they will be able to count this time off as sick leave.

“Do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness…as healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way,” the CDC said.

Anyone with even a mild cough or low-grade fever (99.1 or more) needs to stay at home. They should also stay home (or work from home) if they have had to take simple medications, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin, which may mask symptoms of infection.

How can you protect yourself?

Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

The World Health Organization recommends staying at least 3 feet (or 1 meter) away from anyone who may be infected.

If you’re the one feeling sick, cover your entire mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. But don’t use your hands. Use either your bent elbow or a tissue that you throw away immediately afterward.

Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic

Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards, phones, doorknobs) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly. Lysol disinfectant spray, Clorox disinfecting wipes and Shockwave appear to be approved products at this time.

The CDC makes clear that no additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.

Hang posters about how to prevent the spread of illness.

Put hand sanitizer dispensers in prominent places around the workplace. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled.

Ensure that face masks and/or paper tissues are available at your workplaces, for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bines for hygienically disposing of them.

While the CDC does not recommend N95 respirator masks for the general public, it does recommend them for health care workers.

Is there a cure for novel coronavirus?

There is no known cure or vaccine.

There is an ongoing clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the antiviral drug Remdesivir in adults diagnoses with coronavirus.

Develop a plan of what to do if someone becomes ill with suspected COVID-19:

Put the ill person in a room or area where they are isolated from others in the workplace, limiting the number of people who have contact with the sick person and contacting the local health authorities.

Tell your local public health authority you are developing the plan and seek their input.

Promote regular teleworking across your organization.

If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community, the health authorities may advise people to avoid public transport and crowded places. Teleworking will help your business keep operating while your employees stay safe.

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