UNION, NJ — Local health officials are advising the public to take basic precautions to avoid contracting a new virus that started in Wuhan, China, and has become a serious public health concern in the United States.

Coronavirus is a respiratory infection that spreads much like cold virus and tends to circulate the in the fall in winter.  People with the virus experience fever, coughing and shortness of breath, according to the CDC.

“While the CDC considers this to be a serious public health concern, based on current information, the immediate health risk from the 2019-nCoV to the general public in the U.S. is considered low at this time,” said Union’s Health Officer Marconi Gapas.

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Gapas added, “the New Jersey Department of Health is monitoring the situation closely and is proactively preparing guidance documents for local health departments and health care professionals to be able to effectively respond to any cases that may be identified in the state.”

While there have been thousands of cases of the infection reported in China, the CDC reports that as of Sunday, U.S. health officials were investigating 241 cases in 36 states. New Jersey is not one of the states with a confirmed case of the coronavirus, according to the CDC.

The Union Health Department advises the following guidance for the public:

  • Prevent the spread of germs by covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue (then properly disposing of the tissue) or sleeve, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers, touching pets, and commonly used surfaces. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home if you are sick and avoid sick people.
  • Review and follow CDC travel advisories when planning travel. If you become ill after returning home to the United States, call your healthcare provider before going to a doctor’s office or emergency department of a hospital. They may want to place a mask on you before you enter the building to protect other people.

For more information visit the CDC FAQ on Coronavirus or call the Union Health Department at 908-851-5454.