Chinese Coronavirus: Information for Businesses

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

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While the news can be alarming and details surrounding the Novel Coronavirus are quickly evolving, as of this date, locally there is still relatively low risk of contracting the virus. Employees and customers should, however, take precautions to avoid contracting the virus as they would with any other infectious illness. (See recommendations below.)

Coronavirus, which recently broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan has spread to several countries, with only five known cases in the U.S. as of Jan. 28, one each in Los Angeles and Orange counties, according to a report in the Orange County Register. Those patients have been isolated in medical care.

Current data suggests that older people and those with underlying health issues are most at risk. The coronavirus has been managed more quickly and with more transparency compared to the 2003 SARS outbreak.

The virus is showing poor survivability on artificial surfaces such as on products or packaging, so there should not be concern of the virus being transmitted to the U.S. via products shipped from China.

Anyone traveling out of or into China is now required to undergo a health check. The China Customs Bureau allows travelers to complete the paperwork for this online through a WeChat mini-program, to save time at the airport. Wuhan and 15 nearby cities have been quarantined from last week, with no outbound travel allowed. Passport and visa services for Wuhan have been suspended.

The quarantines in China and restrictions on travel are precautionary measures aimed at containing the virus and its scale, which should hopefully lead to an effective response and faster recovery time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Orange County Public Health Care Agency are taking a cautious, but measured approach to this virus. Suggested precautions are similar to those this time of year with flu/cold season:

  • Get vaccinated for the flu.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Wash hands regularly and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. CDC video about proper hand washing.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Take any anti-viral medications prescribed by your doctor.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces as an extra precaution.
  • Personal protective equipment like surgical masks are not required at this time due to CDC not seeing signs of the community at large being at risk.

Coronavirus is thought to be spread by respiratory droplets:

  • In the air by coughing and sneezing.
  • Through close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
  • By touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
  • Rarely by fecal contamination.

There has yet been no sign in the U.S. of transmission before symptoms manifest.

The virus is similar to previously seen types of coronavirus – SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or camel flu). Similar to both SARS and MERS, the mortality rate is higher in the early days of the outbreak.

Individuals who have recently been to Wuhan, China and have developed fever with cough or shortness of breath within 14 days of travel or have had contact with someone who is suspected to have novel coronavirus, are advised to stay home and call their health care provider immediately. For those who do not have a healthcare provider or need to be seen at a hospital, they are advised not to go directly to the hospital, instead, call an emergency room to get instructions before going in.

For details as they develop, visit the Center for Disease Control website.

Category: Business News, Healthcare, Breaking News, International Trade