The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) is cooperating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to respond to recent reports of a novel (new) coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others that circulate mostly among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Common symptoms in an infected person include a fever, cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
Since December 2019, Chinese authorities preliminarily identified more than 2,000 human infections, including 56 deaths as of January 26, associated with this novel (new) coronavirus in an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. In addition, novel coronavirus infections have been confirmed in numerous travelers who traveled to or came from Wuhan City, including four travelers in the United States located in Washington State, Chicago, Orange County and Los Angeles.
Despite this case in Los Angeles, there is no immediate threat to the general public, no special precautions are required, and people should not be excluded from activities based on their race, country of origin, or recent travel if they do not have symptoms of respiratory illness. Los Angeles residents, students, workers, and visitors should continue to engage in their regular activities and practice good public health hygiene as this is the height of flu season across the County. The risk from the novel coronavirus 2019 to spread in Los Angeles County residents is deemed to be low at this time.
Because this is a new virus that we know little about, and person to person spread has been confirmed, on January 18, the CDC is continuing screening of travelers from Wuhan City at JFK airport in NYC, SFO airport in San Francisco, and LAX airport in Los Angeles, as well as ATL airport in Atlanta and ORD airport
in Chicago. These airports were selected because they are the initial U.S. destinations for the vast majority of travelers from Wuhan City.
Public Health staff is assisting the CDC to ensure that travelers from Wuhan City that have a fever or respiratory illness symptoms upon arrival to LAX are appropriately screened, tested and receive care. Travelers from Wuhan City who are not ill upon arrival are being provided with a card that includes information on symptoms and advised to seek care if they become ill while visiting LA County. While there is no cure for this virus, our hospital partners and clinical providers will be able to test and care for ill travelers to minimize transmission and severe illness. Public Health issued a new health advisory informing local healthcare providers in LA County of the current situation on January 17, 2020. Our team from Acute Communicable Disease Control (ACDC) will continue providing updates and working with local healthcare providers as the situation evolves.
While there is much more to learn about the severity and other features associated with this novel coronavirus, and investigations are ongoing in China, based on current information, the risk from the novel coronavirus 2019 to spread in Los Angeles County residents is deemed to be low at this time.