DHHS Closely Monitoring Novel Coronavirus Outbreak/ U.S. Travel-related Cases

News Release
For Immediate Release: 1/24/2020

Leah Bucco-White, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-9356


Lincoln – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and its partners are carefully monitoring the unfolding outbreak of respiratory illness caused by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).  The virus originated in China and has spread beyond the country's borders with cases now reported in multiple other countries including the United States. Earlier today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the second travel-related case in the U.S.

“This is an evolving situation and we're watching it closely. It's very possible that we could see a travel-related case here in Nebraska. We've shared information with Nebraska health care providers and health care facilities regarding recognition, management and reporting of patients with potential 2019 Novel Coronavirus infections as part of our plan to address this threat," said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for DHHS.

Disease experts continue to extensively study this new coronavirus. They know it can cause respiratory illness with fever, cough and shortness of breath. While severe illness and at least 26 deaths have been reported in China, other people have experienced milder illness. How easily 2019-nCoV can be transmitted is not yet established, but it is spreading person-to-person.   

While CDC officials consider this a serious public health threat, they say the immediate health risk of 2019-nCoV to the American public is currently considered low.

Quick facts about 2019-nCoV:

  • The outbreak of respiratory illness caused by 2019-nCov originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and has continued to spread mostly within China but also to other countries including the U.S.
  • CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Wuhan, China and people traveling to other areas of China should practice certain health precautions – https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/watch/novel-coronavirus-china

  • Public health screening to detect ill travelers traveling to the United States from Wuhan, China is occurring at Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco airports.

  • If you've traveled to Hubei Province, China, including Wuhan in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough or shortness of breath, you should seek medical care. Call ahead before you visit your health care provider or health care facility and tell them about your recent travel and symptoms so medical staff can anticipate your arrival and initiate isolation precautions.

  • There have been other coronavirus outbreaks in the past including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). When person-to-person spread occurred with SARS and MERS, it was thought to have happened by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. While similar transmission of 2019-nCoV is likely, it is still being carefully studied so that appropriate and necessary infection control practices can be used. 

  • There is currently no medication to treat 2019-nCoV infection or vaccine to prevent it. But there are medications to help relieve symptoms.

Source: CDC and DHHS

To learn more about 2019-nCoV, go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

For frequently asked questions about 2019-nCov, go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html


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