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Coronavirus (Covid-19): What You Need to Know

coronavirus_sympticon.pngThe "2019 novel coronavirus " (Covid-19) is a new coronavirus and the responsible agent for an outbreak of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Initially reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31, 2019, it is reportedly linked to a large seafood and animal market.

The situation is rapidly evolving. There have been thousands confirmed human infections and 106 deaths as of January 27, 2020. Cases have been confirmed in at least 16 countries, including the United States and Canada. For an up-to-date heat map of global cases, click here. 


What to look for:

The CDC criteria for patients under investigation (PUI) for Covid-19 include one of the following 2 scenarios.

Scenario 1:

  • Fever AND symptoms of lower respiratory tract illness (eg, cough, shortness of breath) AND
  • In the last 14 days before symptom onset, a history of travel from Wuhan City, China, OR in the last 14 days before symptom onset, close contact with a PUI for Covid-19 while that person was ill.

Scenario 2:

  • Fever OR symptoms of lower respiratory tract illness (eg, cough, shortness of breath) AND
  • In the last 14 days, close contact (as defined above) with an ill laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 patient.

Note: Fever may not be present in some patients, such as those who are very young, elderly, immunosuppressed, or taking certain fever-lowering medications. Clinical judgment should be used.


What else could it be:

The differential diagnosis of the 2019 novel coronavirus includes other etiologies of lower respiratory tract infection.

Viral infection:

Bacterial pneumonia, eg:

Atypical bacterial pneumonia, eg:


If you Suspect Covid-19:

See WHO for specific guidance for suspected Covid-19 infection. Refer to the US CDC for additional guidance.

At present, testing for Covid-19 in the United States can only be carried out by the CDC.

No vaccine or specific treatment for Covid-19 is available; care is supportive.

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