2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID 19)

Public health experts are communicating with and educating health care providers and other public health partners about the current situation. Infection control and isolation protocols are already in place to prevent the spread of illness in Oklahoma. There are no confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Oklahoma at this time. Furthermore, there is no evidence of human to human transmission in U.S. cases of COVID 19 infections. Frequent communication with the public will be available through the OCCHD Novel Coronavirus Page. The latest situation summary updates are available on CDC’s web page 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China.

According to the CDC, the immediate threat to the general American public is considered low and no special precautions are required. Oklahoma residents, students, workers, and visitors do NOT need to change their behavior in any way.

People who have been in Wuhan, China within the past 2 weeks and develop a fever, cough, or have difficulty breathing, seek medical care right away.

  • Call ahead BEFORE going to see a doctor or emergency room.
  • Tell them your symptoms and that you were in Wuhan.

Healthcare providers should immediately notify both infection control personnel at their healthcare facility and OCCHD Epidemiology at 405-425-4437 in the event of a PUI for COVID 19. For recommendations and guidance on the patients under investigation, infection control, including personal protective equipment guidance; home care and isolation; and case investigation, see Information for Healthcare Professionals. For information on specimen collection and shipment, see Information for Laboratories.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID 19)?

2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID 19, is a new respiratory virus identified as the cause of an outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, suggesting person-to-person spread is occurring. At this time, it’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people. The new coronavirus has resulted in thousands of confirmed cases in China, including cases outside Wuhan City, with additional cases being identified in a growing number of other countries. To date, there have been five cases identified in the United States; the first was announced on January 21, 2020.

What are the symptoms?

Patients with confirmed COVID 19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath

CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID 19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

How does it spread?

Although this virus likely emerged from an animal source, evidence now suggests it spreads from person-to-person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. It’s not clear yet how easily COVID 19 spreads from person-to-person. In general, coronaviruses spread through:

  • Coughing or sneezing;
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
  • Touching a surface with virus, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

How is it treated?

There is no current antiviral treatment recommended for COVID 19 infection though studies are underway. People sick with COVID 19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.

Is there a vaccine?

Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against COVID 19.

How can I protect myself and my family?

There are no additional precautions recommended for the general public to take. As with any respiratory virus, you can protect yourself and others by taking every day preventative actions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • 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.

Remember that it is also flu season and OCCHD recommends getting vaccinated, taking everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals if prescribed. See www.occhd.org/flu for more information.

What can travelers do to protect themselves and others?

OCCHD recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Hubei Province, China, including Wuhan. Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan and other areas in Hubei Province, including buses, subways, trains, and the international airport. If you must travel:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

If you traveled to Hubei Province, China, including Wuhan, in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:

  • Stay home. Except for seeking medical care, avoid contact with others.
  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

How is COVID 19 diagnosed?

Diagnosis occurs through laboratory testing of respiratory specimens and serum (blood). Some coronavirus strains cause the common cold and patients tested by their health care provider may test positive for these types. The COVID 19 strain can only be detected at a public health laboratory.

What should healthcare providers and health departments do?

Healthcare providers should immediately notify both infection control personnel at their healthcare facility and OCCHD Epidemiology at 405-425-4437 in the event of a PUI for COVID 19. For recommendations and guidance on the patients under investigation, infection control, including personal protective equipment guidance; home care and isolation; and case investigation, see Information for Healthcare Professionals. For information on specimen collection and shipment, see Information for Laboratories.