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We would like to provide you with some information regarding the novel coronavirus that’s been in the news recently. This is an emerging and quickly changing situation so we are sharing what we have learned to date from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the CDC to provide you with the best care possible.

First a couple of facts, as of January 30 there have been no cases in Iowa. When you come to Orange City Area Health System, we will be asking you two screening questions regarding possible travel to China and if you are having any respiratory symptoms. The CDC and IPDH are recommending this screening for all health care facilities.

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a coronavirus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. Infections with 2019-nCoV also are being reported in a growing number of countries internationally, including the United States.

It is important to understand that there are seven different coronaviruses known to infect humans.

  • Four of the seven coronaviruses are very common, more mild (similar to the common cold), and most people will be infected with at least one of them in their lifetime. Healthcare providers test for these common coronaviruses routinely, and no public health measures are needed to address these common coronaviruses. People infected with the common coronaviruses can avoid passing them to others by covering their coughs and sneezes, cleaning their hands frequently and containing germs by staying home when ill.
  • Three of the seven coronaviruses are rare and can cause more severe illness; this includes the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Testing for this virus can only be done at CDC; healthcare providers are not able to test for this virus locally.

CDC has issued a Level 3 Travel Warning: All nonessential travel to China should be avoided.

  • In addition, federal officials are monitoring air travelers with symptoms compatible with 2019-nCoV infection and a travel connection with China, and are referring them to healthcare for further assessment.

Both IDPH and the CDC are saying the risk to the general public remains low at this time. Your risk of getting the infection is directly related to your exposure. The vast majority of people in the US and Iowa have not had recent travel to China where the transmission is occurring, nor have they had close personal contact with someone who has the virus. For the general public, no additional precautions are recommended at this time beyond the simple daily precautions that everyone should always take. Right now influenza is a much more significant threat to Iowans. Protect yourself from the flu:

  • It’s not too late to get your flu vaccine
  • If you are sick, stay home
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Wash your hand frequently with soap and water

If you traveled to China or know you have been exposed to someone that may have this virus and you 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.

If you have any questions, please contact your health care provider.

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