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Coronavirus precautions shared by DOH, WCSD

AP Photo Jay Butler, Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases addresses the media about response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus as as Senior Advisor Ed Rouse looks on, at the Emergency Operations Center inside The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Atlanta.

Coronavirus — officially named COVID-19 this week — has infected more than 60,000 people and resulted in more than 1,000 deaths.

Although the virus is believed to have first infected a human in Wuhan, China, there are now cases worldwide, including 15 known in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronaviruses are common in some animals — including bats and camels — but the diseases do not typically infect humans.

COVID-19 is an exception and it has been declared a public health emergency of international concern.

The typical symptoms are listed as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The extent of symptoms can be mild to severe.

According to CDC, the known cases in the United States are associated with travelers — those who have been to Wuhan and those who have had close contact with infected travelers, including health care workers.

“For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low at this time,” according to a CDC release about the virus.

Warren County School District and the Pennsylvania Department of Health are spreading the word.

“We are adhering to the guidelines that were provided to us by the Department of Health,” Director of Pupil Services Dr. Patricia Hawley said.

The district sent home DOH information on Friday.

Hawley said precautionary measures for preventing the spread of coronavirus are similar to those for the common cold or the flu — which people have a much higher chance of encountering locally.

The department suggests covering coughs and sneezes with the elbow, not the hands, cleaning commonly-touched surfaces frequently, and staying home when sick.

District officials are also asking families to inform them of any foreign travel, she said.

Further information about the coronavirus may be found at cdc.gov and health.pa.gov.

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