BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - With recent cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) reported in several countries including the U.S., health officials are watchful for potential cases. Although this new virus in understandably a cause for concern, it is important for New Jersey residents to know that the risk to the public remains low. New Jersey currently has no confirmed cases of nCoV at this time.

Based on what has been learned from past outbreaks we know that finding cases quickly and responding to them effectively is key. That rapid response helps ensure that the ill person receives the care they need, and it lessens the chance of other people getting sick. Fortunately, New Jersey has a strong disease surveillance system in place that includes partnerships with hospitals as well as local health departments.

The outbreak emerged in Wuhan, China on December 2019 and now globally includes more than 20,000 cases and 427 deaths. Eleven (11) U.S. cases have been confirmed in California, Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington State.

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If you have had recent travel to China or close contact with someone who has and are experiencing symptoms it is important to call your health care provider before arriving to the office so they can make accommodations in advance. 

Patients with confirmed nCoV infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. CDC believes at this time that symptoms of nCoV may appear in as few as two days or as long as two weeks after exposure.

When a new disease is circulating, it’s natural for people to ask what they can do to protect themselves and their families. The best guidance at this point is to take the same precautions recommended for avoiding colds and flu: People should stay home when they are sick, cover their cough and practice good hand washing. 

The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to the People’s Republic of China (this does not include the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, or the island of Taiwan). If you have recently returned from a trip to China and are feeling sick, call your health care provider and let them know of your travel and symptoms. 

For more information regarding this new virus, please visit the New Jersey Department of Health’s website or call the NJDOH Novel Coronavirus Call Center at 800-222-1222. The call center is open to the public 24/7 and can accommodate callers in multiple languages.