Wuhan, China is half a world away, but Alexandria officials are not letting the city’s distance from the deadly coronavirus outbreak there lull them into a false sense of security.
With authorities investigating a possible coronavirus case in Northern Virginia — reportedly a George Mason University student who recently traveled to China — Alexandria says it’s “closely monitoring” the outbreak.
On Monday afternoon the city released information on the disease, its efforts thus far and how locals can protect themselves from it.
From a City of Alexandria press release:
The Alexandria Health Department (AHD) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) are closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (termed “2019-nCoV”) that was first detected in Wuhan City, China, and reported in December 2019. Infections with 2019-nCoV are being reported in a growing number of countries across the world, including the United States. Test results for a patient under investigation in the Northern Region of Virginia are expected to be received later this week. At this time, Virginia continues to have no confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus 2019-nCoV.
2019-nCoV is novel, or new, meaning that is has not previously been identified by public health officials. As a coronavirus, it comes from a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China, reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting the virus likely emerged from an animal source. Now there are indications the virus is spreading from infected persons to others.
AHD is following guidelines from VDH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to rapidly identify persons who may be infected with 2019-nCoV. AHD has provided Alexandria’s healthcare providers guidance and resources for screening and testing persons suspected of being infected with 2019-nCoV, while also protecting their staff and the public.
How Can I Protect Myself, My Family and My Business?
There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. However, everyday preventive actions help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses like 2019-nCoV as well as influenza and the common cold, including:
- 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
- Stay home when you are sick. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow, not your hand. Alternatively, cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, and wash your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Please note: the CDC has specific guidelines for travelers.