What you Need to Know: Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Outbreak

Wednesday, January 29, 2020 - 12:45pm

This is a rapidly evolving situation and the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) will provide updates as they become available.  Last update: January 29, 2020

2019-nCoV Testing and Confirmed Case Counts in Maryland (as of January 29, 2020)

  • Number of patients being tested for 2019-nCoV: 1
  • Number of tests pending at CDC: 1
  • Number of laboratory-confirmed cases: 0 ​

Guidance for people who recently traveled to areas impacted by 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

If you traveled to Wuhan, China, or other areas impacted by 2019-nCoV, monitor for symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing for 14 days after your return.

If you do feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing during that 14 days, you should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. 
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your 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​.

In December 2019, Chinese health officials announced they were investigating a pneumonia outbreak of unknown etiology (cause) in the city of Wuhan, China.  At that time, it was reported that many of the cases were linked to a seafood and animal market in Wuhan.  Since then, health officials have reported that the outbreak was caused by a novel coronavirus, which was later named 2019-nCoV.  

Since then, hundreds of cases have been reported and some cases have been fatal.  Cases of 2019-nCoV have been identified elsewhere in China, and in other countries, including in the United States. While a majority of cases have been linked to the city of Wuhan, there is evidence of person-to-person spread both inside and outside of Wuhan.

About Coronaviruses
There are many viruses in the coronavirus family that can cause illness in both humans and animals.  Several coronaviruses commonly circulate among people all of the time, and cause mild to moderate illnesses, such as the common cold.  Other coronaviruses commonly circulate only in animals.  Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people as has been seen with MERS and SARS.

Symptoms of 2019-nCoV Infection
Commonly reported symptoms of 2019-nCoV infection include:
Shortness of breath

While the exact incubation period for this coronavirus has not yet been determined, it is believed that most infected people will develop symptoms 2-14 days after they were exposed.

Many of the patients in the pneumonia outbreak caused by 2019-nCov in Wuhan, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring.

There is no vaccine available for 2019-nCoV.  In general, people can protect themselves and others against respiratory viruses by taking the following precautions:
Wash your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap & water
Cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
If you are sick, stay home from work or school
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
Practice good health habits
It's not too late to get your flu shot!  While the influenza vaccine does not protect against coronavirus infection, it can help keep you healthy during the flu season.

Currently, testing for 2019-nCoV must be done at the CDC.  Clinical laboratories do not have the ability to test for this particular virus, though they do have the ability to test for the other, more common coronaviruses that circulate in people all the time.​

People infected with the 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care. There is no specific antiviral treatment for 2019-nCoV.