The Everett Clinic, part of Optum, has taken a number of steps to prepare for the novel (new) coronavirus that originated last month in central China.
The new virus was officially reported by the World Health Organization on Jan. 9. The virus, which has symptoms similar to pneumonia, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and in some cases can cause death, is being closely monitored by world health officials.
The outbreak began in December in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, and has spread to 30 of 33 China provinces. It has been reported in approximately 12 other countries. To date, there have been fewer than ten cases diagnosed in the United States.
“As of today, there does not appear to be any locally transmitted cases in the United States,” said Dr. Richard Migliori, Chief Medical Officer, UnitedHealth Group. “This could change, and the Office of Medical Affairs will be engaged with reputable sources with first-hand knowledge of the situation.”
In accordance with CDC guidance, The Everett Clinic, part of Optum, is advising that employees and patients do not travel to China. For more information on the CDC’s current travel guidance, visit the CDC’s travel advisory page.
What We Know
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses common throughout the world that can cause illness in both animals and people. Coronaviruses that infect animals can sometimes evolve into a new human coronavirus and cause disease in people. Both severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) are coronaviruses.
Illness caused by coronaviruses can range from mild cold-like symptoms to severe disease. This particular coronavirus, referred to as 2019 nCoV, has symptoms similar to pneumonia. Some people have had a milder illness, but severe illness and death have been reported in older individuals or those with compromised immune systems. There is no specific treatment, nor vaccine, for the 2019 nCoV. Supportive care and medical treatment may include hydration, supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation for severe illness.
What We Don’t Know
Health professionals are still learning about the virus, so not all the details about prevention, illness and treatment are known. The source of the virus, the rate of transmission and the case fatality rate are still unknown.
For updated information, guidance and travel alerts about nCoV, visit the CDC’s nCoV homepage and the World Health Organization. Both the CDC and the WHO believe that the risk of contracting the virus are relatively low. UnitedHealth Group is actively monitoring these sites and other public health resources to ensure we respond appropriately to the needs of our employees, customers and members.
What You Can Do
Until there are more answers, people are advised to follow good prevention practices, including:
- Hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact or sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash