What you need to know about the new Coronavirus

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China. A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. COVID-19 is not the same as the coronaviruses that usually happen among us and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

COVID-19 was previously known as 2019 novel Coronavirus or 2019-nCoV. But on February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (also called, WHO), confirmed that the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak would now be called COVID-19.

What is happening with COVID-19 around the world?

COVID-19 was recently declared a health emergency for the United States and the world. Although most coronavirus cases have occurred in China, there are cases in the United States. The majority of those cases are from travelers who return to the United States with the infection and others are from person-to-person close contact with people who had recently returned from Wuhan, China. However, the risk of getting infected in the United States remains low at this time.

COVID-19 and pregnancy

Public health and medical groups are closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak.  At this time, we have no pregnancy-specific data about this new coronavirus. We do know from other respiratory illnesses, like the flu and another coronavirus called Severe Acute Respiratory (also called SARS), that pregnant women can get sicker and require hospitalization. 

I am pregnant (or considering pregnancy), am I at higher risk?

We do not have any specific evidence at this time that you are at higher risk for infection from COVID-19.  However, when you’re pregnant, your immune system isn’t as quick to respond to illnesses as it was before pregnancy. Having a lowered immune system means you’re more likely get sick with viruses like coronavirus.

If you are pregnant and think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your health care provider right away.  For example, if you have traveled to Wuhan, China in the last 14 days or if you had close contact with someone infected with COVID-19.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

We are still learning about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Some people who have gotten sick with this coronavirus infection have had little to no symptoms, but others have gotten seriously sick and have even died.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the symptoms of the COVID-19 may appear between 2-14 days after being infected.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Much is unknown about how COVID-19 spreads. Current knowledge is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses. The CDC reports that this coronavirus may spread from person-to-person when there is a close contact (about 6 feet away) with someone infected. Person-to-person transmission happens when an infected person coughs or sneezes and those respiratory droplets land in the other person’s mouth or nose.  

How can you protect yourself?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent the infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. You can follow the same steps you take to prevent getting sick with a cold or the flu to protect yourself from COVID-19. This includes:  

  • Stay home when you’re sick and limit contact with others.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your arm. Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before touching anyone. You also can use alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol. Use enough hand sanitizer so that it takes at least 20 seconds for your hands to dry.
  • Clean and disinfect objects you touch regularly and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Use hot, soapy water or a dishwasher to wash your dishes and utensils

When do you need to see a health care provider?

Seek medical care if you have traveled to China or if you were in close contact with someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days and you:

  • Feel sick
  • Have fever
  • Are coughing
  • Have trouble breathing

Call your doctor’s office or emergency room to tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms, before you go.

What can you do about traveling?

  • Do not travel to China at this time.
  • Check the CDC global map for travel advisories before your next trip.