A call for vigilance: Responding to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus
Given the evolving situation with 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), I wanted to take an opportunity to provide some information about the virus, how we can protect ourselves, and the Allscripts commitment to assist patients and healthcare professionals.
2019-nCoV is a new respiratory virus that infects humans and was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Coronaviruses are a common and large group of viruses which cause illness in both people and animals. Although coronavirus most commonly causes mild respiratory illnesses like the common cold, some coronaviruses can lead to more severe respiratory illness (e.g., Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)). Although initially spread from animals-to-humans, 2019-nCoV is most commonly spread from person-to-person contact.
How can we protect ourselves from 2019-nCoV?
There is currently no vaccine for 2019-nCoV, so the best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure to the virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following “everyday habits” to prevent the spread of respiratory virus, including common colds, influenza and 2019-nCoV.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water aren’t available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
In addition to these everyday practices, people should limit contact with those who are sick with or being evaluated for 2019-nCoV and avoid non-essential travel to places with high rates of 2019-nCoV. At present, the CDC has issued a Travel Notice – Warning Level 3 (highest level) for people to avoid non-essential travel to China.
What should we watch for?
People with 2019-nCoV may have symptoms which include fever, cough and shortness a breath, and the severity of their illness can range from being mildly sick to severely ill. These symptoms in combination with close contact to a confirmed 2019-nCoV patient or recent travel (within 14 days of symptom onset) should prompt people to seek immediate evaluation by a medical professional.
For people diagnosed with 2019-nCoV, there is currently no specific medication treatment recommended. People diagnosed with mild cases of 2019-nCoV will receive general supportive care to relieve symptoms. For severe cases, people will require more advanced care in a hospital setting.
What is Allscripts doing?
Allscripts is actively monitoring the emerging outbreak of 2019-nCoV and is engaged with the CDC to incorporate current and evolving Interim Guidance for Healthcare Professionals into existing health IT tools.
Allscripts will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide additional guidance and recommendations for patients and health care organizations as they become available.