The Trumbull Health Department recently shared information about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Asia.

According to the department, many K-12 school administrators, teachers and parents within Connecticut are concerned about how the current outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Asia will impact their communities and wish to take appropriate steps to mitigate any risks.

The word “novel” means new. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working to learn as much as possible about this new virus so that they can better understand how it spreads and its associated illness. The Connecticut Department of Health (CT DPH) is also working by developing guidance and education materials should this new virus impact our residents.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses and there are different types of coronavirus within that family, much like there are different types of flu viruses. Coronaviruses are not new, and they are quite common. They are a frequent cause of respiratory illnesses such as the common cold.

Coronaviruses tend to circulate in the fall and winter months, similar to influenza. Most people get infected with these viruses at some point in their lives. The type of coronavirus that has recently emerged in Wuhan, China is a new type of coronavirus and is infecting people for the first time (which means that people do not have any immunity to it).

Information suggests this virus is causing symptoms consistent with a respiratory illness such as cough, fever, and shortness of breath. Chinese officials report that sustained person-to-person spread is occurring in China. However, there is no evidence to suggest that this virus is spreading between people in the United States

Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for the coronavirus. There is no vaccine to prevent this virus, and the CDC advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

The CDC recommends that travelers avoid non-essential travel to Wuhan, China. Chinese officials have closed transportation within and out of Wuhan. If a person travelled to China in the last 14 days and is sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing they should:

• Seek medical care right away. Before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and describe recent travel and symptoms;

• Avoid contact with others;

• Not travel while sick;

• Cover mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not 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.

The state Department of Public Health recommends that schools and childcare settings increase education on respiratory hygiene. Staff and children (as developmentally appropriate) should all be taught and asked to take the following precautions:

• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth;

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.

• Get a flu shot - it’s not too late to be protected. Currently there are 5,000 cases of Coronavirus worldwide compared to 15 million cases of the flu.

School cleaning procedures and special sanitizing processes beyond routine cleaning, including closing schools to clean every surface in the building are not necessary or recommended to slow the spread of respiratory illness. Schools should follow standard procedures for routine cleaning and disinfecting with an EPA-registered product. Typically, this means daily sanitizing surfaces and objects that are touched often, such as desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, hands-on learning items, faucet handles, phones and toys.

Outbreaks involving novel coronaviruses evolve quickly and recommendations from public health officials may change frequently as new information becomes available. The Trumbull Health Department will continue to participate in weekly conference calls with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the CT DPH.