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On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the current outbreak of coronavirus disease, COVID-19. CDC will be updating our website and other CDC materials to reflect the updated name.

What Healthcare Personnel Should Know about Caring for Patients with Confirmed or Possible 2019-nCoV Infection

Healthcare personnel (HCP) are on the front lines of caring for patients with confirmed or possible infection with 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and therefore have an increased risk of exposure to this virus. HCPs can minimize their risk of exposure when caring for confirmed or possible 2019-nCoV patients by following CDC infection prevention and control guidelines, including use of recommended personal protective equipment (PPE).

How 2019-nCoV Spreads

There is much to learn about the newly emerged 2019-nCoV, including how and how easily it spreads. Based on what is currently known about 2019-nCoV and what is known about other coronaviruses, spread is thought to occur mostly from person-to-person via respiratory droplets among close contacts.

Close contact can occur while caring for a patient, including:

  • being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a patient with 2019-n-CoV for a prolonged period of time.
  • having direct contact with infectious secretions from a patient with 2019-nCoV. Infectious secretions may include sputum, serum, blood, and respiratory droplets.

If close contact occurs while not wearing all recommended PPE, healthcare personnel may be at risk of infection.

How You Can Protect Yourself

Healthcare personnel caring for patients with confirmed or possible 2019-nCoV should adhere to CDC recommendations for infection prevention and control (IPC):

  • Assess and triage these patients with acute respiratory symptoms and risk factors for 2019-nCoV to minimize chances of exposure, including placing a facemask on the patient and isolating them in an Airborne Infection Isolation Room (AIIR), if available
  • Use Standard Precautions, Contact Precautions, and Airborne Precautions and eye protection when caring for patients with confirmed or possible 2019-nCoV
  • Perform hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand rub before and after all patient contact, contact with potentially infectious material, and before putting on and upon removal of PPE, including gloves. Use soap and water if hands are visibly soiled
  • Practice how to properly don, use, and doff PPEpdf icon in a manner to prevent self-contamination
  • Perform aerosol-generating procedures, including collection of diagnostic respiratory specimens, in an AIIR, while following appropriate IPC practices, including use of appropriate PPE

Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection

Routine cleaning and disinfection procedures are appropriate for 2019-nCoV in healthcare settings, including those patient-care areas in which aerosol-generating procedures are performed. Products with EPA-approvedexternal icon emerging viral pathogens claims are recommended for use against 2019-nCoV. Management of laundry, food service utensils, and medical waste should also be performed in accordance with routine procedures.

When to Contact Occupational Health Services

If you have an unprotected exposure (i.e., not wearing recommended PPE) to a confirmed or possible 2019-nCoV patient, contact your supervisor or occupational health immediately.

If you develop symptoms consistent with 2019-nCoV (fever, cough, or difficulty breathing), do not report to work. Contact your occupational health services.

For more information for healthcare personnel, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/index.html