Iowa Department of Public Health releases information on the Coronavirus

The following information was received by the Veterans Memorial Hospital Community and Home Care Department (formerly Allamakee County Public Health) February 4, 2020 from the Iowa Department of Public Health concerning the Coronavirus.

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a coronavirus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

• Imported cases of 2019-nCoV infection in people have been detected in the U.S. While person-to-person spread among close contacts has been detected with this virus, at this time this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.
- The emergence of a new virus that can infect humans is always a serious public health concern.
- This is the kind of issue that we prepare to respond to and we are working closely with the state and following federal guidance.
• January 30, the World Health Organization determined the rapidly spreading outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
• January 31, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency for the entire United States to aid the nation’s healthcare community in responding to the 2019 novel coronavirus.
- Commercial carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China. Federal officials are monitoring air travelers with symptoms compatible with 2019-nCoV infection and a travel connection with China.
- CDC has issued a Level 3 Travel Warning: All nonessential travel to China should be avoided.
• Iowa has been working to prepare for and implement the enhanced screening and monitoring guidance in accordance with federal directives that took effect February 2.
- Things like quarantine, isolation and self-monitoring are examples of public health interventions that can be used as additional tools to help limit the spread of an illness that moves from one person to another.
- These techniques have been used at the state and federal levels in the past for communicable illnesses like measles or tuberculosis and just one tool we have to help control the spread of a disease.
• The risk to the general public remains low at this time. Right now influenza is a much more significant threat to Iowans.
- The risk is associated with travel to China, not to a specific ethnicity or group of people.
- The risk to the general public remains low at this time. Right now influenza is a much more significant threat to Iowans.
-- It’s not too late to get your flu vaccine
-- If you are sick, stay home
-- Cover coughs and sneezes
-- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
- CDC does not recommend face masks for the general public.
• If you traveled to China and feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing you should:
- Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a healthcare office, call ahead and tell them about your travel and your symptoms.

Local public health official Sheryl Darling-Mooney, RN of Veterans Memorial Hospital Community and Home Care Public Health states, “I would just reiterate that we recommend good hand washing, if you are sick stay home, cover your cough and sneezes and get your flu shot.” 

She adds, “The general public is at far higher risk of getting influenza than it is of getting the novel corona virus.”

Veterans Memorial Hospital Community and Home Care will continue to monitor the situation and update the public on any changes or alerts. For additional information, call Veterans Memorial Hospital Community and Home Care at 563-568-5660.

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