Best practice guidelines COVID-19
Over the span of the last few months, there has been an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus which can be spread from person to person. Certain measures can be taken to reduce the likelihood of contracting the illness. Due to the large number of cases of illness including rising deaths resulting from the virus, it is important to stay informed. Details are still developing and no vaccine is currently available. In order to keep the virus contained, a travel ban has been issued for nonessential travel to the People’s Republic of China and South Korea. (NOTE: The Department of State has restrictions posted on their site as well. Before traveling, be sure to get the latest on the region you plan to visit).
As of February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a name (COVID-19) for the coronavirus that originated from Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. It is important to remember to use standard hygiene practices to avoid this and any other respiratory illnesses (such as seasonal influenza which is typical this time of year in US communities). UPDATE: As the situation evolves daily, the best source of information is the WHO daily situation report that maintains data on the current number of confirmed cases by country.
CDC recommends avoiding nonessential travel to China. If you must travel:
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Discuss travel to China with your healthcare provider. Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease.
- Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
If you were in China in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, do the following:
- Seek medical advice - call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others.
- Do not travel while sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
As the situation develops, more countries will be added to the list of travel-restricted areas. Please visit the CDC website to learn more.
The CDC recommends the following in order to prevent COVID19 and other viral infections:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory viruses, including 2019-nCoV, except in specific care settings identified below.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of 2019-nCoV, in order to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
There are several types of facemasks on the market today. There is a distinct difference, however, between what is commonly known as a “surgical mask” and an N95 respirator:
- Typical surgical masks are not respirators, and are best used to provide a barrier against droplets including large respiratory particles.
- N95 masks are respirators that are rated for use in a surgical setting to provide respiratory protection, reducing the risk of passing or contracting a disease.
- If you are showing symptoms, it is not recommended to use a mask with an exhalation valve.
- N95 masks may be more effective in reducing the chance of passing of disease in other settings as well.
The CDC website has a wealth of information to remain up-to-date on what you should know. Remember not to make any determinations of risk based on race or country of origin. Confidentiality of people with any health issue including COVID-19 should be maintained. As we know more about transmissibility, severity, and other features of COVID-19, we will do our best to update you. Please visit the dedicated CDC page for updated information.
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses.
- For information about handwashing, see CDC’s handwashing website
- For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s hand hygiene in healthcare settings
CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.
Information for businesses