Coronavirus: What You Need to Know to Protect Employees

In December 2019, a respiratory illness outbreak caused by a new coronavirus (COVID-19) was detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. There are seven known coronaviruses across the globe, with the two most serious being Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Associated Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). As of February 14, 2020, the worldwide death toll from COVID-19 is over 1,300. At this time, there are 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States in Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington.

Transmission of Coronavirus

Unfortunately, there is not much currently known about the transmission of this virus. Chinese officials have confirmed person-to-person spread of the illness, which may occur through the air, physical contact or touching a contaminated surface. As COVID-19 has not yet become widespread in the US, there are no precautions recommended for the public. The warning signs of COVID-19 are similar to symptoms of a respiratory infection or common cold. If you have traveled to China in the last 14 days or were exposed to someone who has, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Running nose
  • Headache

These symptoms may appear anywhere between two and 14 days after exposure to the virus and can range from mild illness to death.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent or treatment to cure coronavirus. The following precautions outlined by the CDC may be taken to reduce your risk of COVID-19 exposure:

  • To prevent the spread of illness, stay home from work when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with people who display symptoms of illness.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces and touched objects with a spray or wipe.
  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

International research efforts will continue, as health professionals try to learn more about this disease outbreak. As new information is discovered, the CDC will release details to the public. Visit the CDC website to learn more.