CDC advises travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to China

ATTENTION: This is a news report about the ongoing outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). For comprehensive and updated information about this outbreak, see our 2019-nCoV advisories page. For more recent news items about 2019-nCoV, see our latest updates on the news page. 

What is happening?

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has issued updated travel guidance for China, recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to the country (Level 3 Travel Health Notice). This warning comes in response to an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus (2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV) that originated last month in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province.

Thousands of cases have been reported across China, where health officials say there is sustained person-to-person community spread. So far, however, community spread of 2019-nCoV has not been reported outside of China.

In the United States, the number of cases remains low, with five confirmed in Washington State, California, Illinois, and Arizona. At this time there are no confirmed cases in Hawaii.

The goal of the U.S. public health response is to contain this outbreak and prevent sustained spread in this country, where the immediate health risk to the general American public is considered low at this time. CDC is aggressively responding to this serious health situation and will continue to update the public as they learn more about this novel coronavirus.

Human coronaviruses are common. Other coronaviruses circulate in animals, including camels, cats, and bats, but they can sometimes evolve and infect people. This is what happened with MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Most of those affected by this new coronavirus were linked to a large seafood and animal market, likely through animal-to-person spread; the market has since been closed to slow spread of the virus.

While some 2019-nCoV patients have had severe illness and several deaths have occurred, other patients have had milder illness and been discharged. Symptoms associated with this virus have included fever, cough, and trouble breathing. The public is asked to take measures to prevent the spread of disease, such as those described below.

What can you do?

Location of Wuhan in central China

If you have traveled to China and feel sick, you should do the following:

  • Stay home. Except for seeking medical care, avoid contact with others.
  • 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.
  • Not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or 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.

The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) also recommends all persons get vaccinated for influenza (“the flu”). With current seasonal influenza activity, it is likely that there will be confusion as persons with influenza will exhibit similar signs and symptoms to 2019-nCoV, such as fever and cough. Preventing the flu with vaccination will reduce the number of flu cases in Hawaii clinics and hospitals. DOH strongly recommends that residents 6 months and older protect themselves against flu by receiving the seasonal influenza vaccination.

For more information, including information for clinicians and public health professionals, please go to the following DOH and CDC webpages: