What You Need to Know About the Coronavirus

As the coronavirus public health story continues to rapidly evolve, UNAC/UHCP is monitoring reports and urges our members and the general public to choose caution over panic.

This novel illness originated in Wuhan, China, with increasing reports of infected travelers contracting the virus—called 2019-nCoV—in several countries including the United States. Measures are in place here and in other countries to prevent further spread of the virus.

Coronavirus image Courtesy of Getty Images

Coronavirus (Getty Images)

Here are some things you should know in your roles as healthcare professionals:

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are an extremely common cause of colds and other upper respiratory infections.

When and where did these latest cases start?

Chinese health authorities reported a group of cases of viral pneumonia to the World Health Organization (WHO) in late December 2019. Many of the ill people had contact with a seafood and animal market in Wuhan, a large city in eastern China.

What are the symptoms of this coronavirus and how is it treated?

The symptoms can include a cough, possibly with a fever and shortness of breath. There are some early reports of non-respiratory symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Many people recover within a few days. However, some people—especially the very young, elderly, or people who have a weakened immune system—may develop a more serious infection, such as bronchitis or pneumonia. For the sickest patients with this illness, specialized, aggressive care in an intensive care unit (ICU) can be lifesaving.

What can I do to protect myself and others?

You can use the same practices to stay safe during cold and flu season and stop the spread of illnesses:

  • thorough handwashing: soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • staying home if you are sick, except to get medical care
  • covering mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • cleaning and disinfecting the objects and surfaces you touch, and making sure your unwashed hands do not touch your face
  • getting a flu vaccine for general health guidelines is recommended

Unless you’ve been in close contact with someone who has the coronavirus—which right now, typically means a traveler from Wuhan, China who actually has the virus—you’re likely to be safe.

Be mindful of your employers’ contingency plans for confronting the flu-like symptoms or disease among our members and patients. If you have any concerns about protocols to be used with the current coronavirus, please contact your staff representative.

UNAC/UHCP has staff who are monitoring this infection daily and ensuring that all the safety issues are being thoughtfully discussed.