On the watch: COVID-19

The novel coronavirus, originally identified in 2019, continues to grow as an international fear. Precautionary travel measures are in place and response systems are activated across the globe. While uncertainty does remain, the rate of knowledge growth for this event is surpassing that experienced during SARS and other recent outbreaks. Check this page for up-to-date commentary from the NCDP team, other Columbia faculty, and the CDC’s own micro-site embedded below. 

NCDP Media


From the Director

By Irwin Redlener
2/19/2020

Coronavirus has killed more than 2,000 people. All but six of them were in mainland China. The virus, officially called COVID-19, has infected more than 75,000 people. There are more than a thousand cases outside China.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health today reported three new cases of the COVID-10, bringing the nationwide total to 84 confirmed cases. The arrival this week of 14 infected American evacuees from a cruise ship in Japan brought the total number of cases in the United States to at least 29 people.

What You Should Know

  1. At the moment, there is no evidence of rapidly growing cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. -or any country other than China
  2. But if you have traveled in the past 60 days (overly cautious!) to China or have been in contact with someone with proven or suspected COVID-19, your health care provider and local public health officials should be informed.
  3. No special precautions for COVID-19 are necessary, other than what experts recommend as good practices to limit spread of any virus, such as regular, thorough hand washing and “cough and sneeze hygiene”.
  4. If you have severe “cold symptoms” with a fever, check in with your health provider; you could have the regular flu! (and stay home, if you can…)
  5. Get the seasonal flu vaccine every year

Challenges Ahead For Public Health And Government Officials

  1. Still not sure of actual duration of incubation period. Most experts say 14 days – but it could be longer.
  2. Still trying to prove that people infected with COVID-19 can transmit the virus before symptoms appear
  3. Vaccine to prevent COVID-19 remains in development; many months remain before being ready for widespread distribution
  4. So far, there is no specific medication to treat people who are infected with COVID- 19
  5. Public health scientists are working on more sophisticated and more effective ways to identify, track, test and isolate contacts of people infected with COVID-19

CDC 2019 nCoV Microsite