Update: Novel coronavirus

January 31, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources

On Thursday, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency in regards to the novel coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan Province, China.

Over the past few weeks, additional cases have been identified in a growing number of international locations, including the U.S.

Michigan Medicine is working closely with the Washtenaw County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to quickly isolate those with potential exposure who are ill, to expedite testing of ill patients, and to monitor patients and their close contacts for symptoms. Currently, all patients are travel screened at all points of entry into the organization’s hospital and clinics.

To help employees get the latest information regarding the coronavirus, Infection Prevention & Epidemiology has created a webpage with important resources and updates.

Here are some of the most vital things that you should know:

What is the novel coronavirus?

The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person.

How does 2019-nCoV spread?

Person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses at this CDC website.

What are the symptoms of the virus?

Patients with 2019-nCoV have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath.

What precautions are being taken at Michigan Medicine?

If a patient is suspected of having the novel coronavirus, medical staff will write an order for special pathogen precautions. Nursing staff will then place the special pathogen precautions sign on the patient’s door.

Patients will be placed in isolation rooms set at negative pressure and clinicians will wear N95 masks/PAPR upon entry into the room. Employees also must wear an isolation gown, gloves and eye protection upon entry.

Who should be contacted if a patient is suspected to have 2019-nCoV?

All suspected cases should be reported to Infection Prevention & Epidemiology for consultation (pager 30032). Testing will be performed in coordination with MDHHS.

Which sites are designated to help manage cases?

In addition to the main academic medical center, the following sites have been recognized as regional locations well-positioned to manage cases presenting positive indications for the virus: Brighton Health Center, Brighton Center for Specialty Care, Northville Health Center, Canton Health Center, West Ann Arbor Parkland Plaza, Briarwood Family Medicine and East Ann Arbor.

Click here for more details on the novel coronavirus, and here for the guidelines and protocols at Michigan Medicine.

Please note, Michigan Medicine employees that have traveled to Wuhan or other impacted areas as reported by CDC and WHO should monitor themselves for the following symptoms for 14 days upon return. If employees develop fever, cough or difficulty breathing, they should not report to work and should seek medical care, making sure to report their travel so that proper infection prevention measures can be taken to avoid transmission to others.

Additionally, masks are not currently recommended as a prevention measure for well individuals. If someone is ill with respiratory symptoms, wearing a mask can reduce the spread of illness.

And keep in mind that this is a travel-related illness, not an illness within the Chinese or Asian communities. You cannot tell if someone has a risk of spreading novel coronavirus by what they look like.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and additional communications will be shared as information become available.

Thank you for playing a role in helping limit the spread of the novel coronavirus with compassion and science — and for keeping patients, families and colleagues safe!