Health officials urge public to take precautions against the spread of viruses
Health officials, elected leaders and school officials are urging the public to take precautions against the spread of seasonal influenza, or flu, and a new virus that has recently been detected in humans—2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov).
Confirmed influenza cases were first reported to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) in October and have been steadily on the rise since. Health officials also are monitoring the spread of 2019-nCov, which originated in China and has spread to a number of countries, including the United States.
“While we do not have a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in the state, we are continuing to take every necessary precaution to protect New Yorkers from this dangerous virus,” New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Feb. 7. “I also want to remind New Yorkers they are more likely to be exposed to the influenza virus than the coronavirus and urge everyone to take common-sense precautions to protect against both, such as regular hand washing and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.”
The coronavirus, which can lead to fever, cough and trouble breathing or shortness of breath, has not been found in humans before, according to a joint release from the NYSDOH and the state Education Department (SED). Health officials believe the coronavirus probably spreads from animals to humans and from person-to-person, but it’s not yet clear how easily it spreads from person-to-person.
The coronavirus is not actively circulating among New Yorkers at this time, according to the NYSDOH and SED release. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers the coronavirus to be a serious public health concern and is studying it to better understand how it spreads and causes illness. There currently is not a vaccine for the virus.
The New York State Department of Health (DOH) recommends the following ways to minimize the spread of all respiratory viruses, including 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 are not 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 mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
- Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.