COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019, and regularly coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The outbreak continues to grow in China and cases have been identified in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States.
There is now community (person to person) spread in other countries outside of China. There are ongoing investigations to learn more about the virus, how it is transmitted, and how to prevent the spread of disease. DPH has not confirmed any COVID-19 cases in Georgia to date; however, this is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation so that could change. As it is likely that more COVID-19 cases will be detected in the United States, DPH is prepared to respond if and when a case is detected in Georgia. DPH and the CDC are readying pandemic preparedness and response plans including specific measures to prepare communities to respond to local transmission of COVID-19.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may resemble the common cold or seasonal flu, which is a far greater risk this time of year. The best way to prevent infection with any respiratory virus is to use the same preventative strategies used during a normal cold and flu season: get a flu shot, wash hands regularly, cover coughs and sneezes, and stay home when experiencing symptoms of illness until they resolve. It is important to remember that viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities or racial backgrounds and this type of stigma should be avoided. For more about stigma related to COVID-19 and how to prevent it, please see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/related-stigma.html.
Persons who have traveled from affected countries/areas in the past 14 days and have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing should seek medical care, and should contact their healthcare provider and inform them of their travel history before going in.
DPH is advising healthcare providers statewide to be alert for patients who have traveled from affected countries/areas and present with a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness. The Department disseminated a detailed medical advisory to healthcare providers about COVID-19 reporting, testing, specimen collection and healthcare infection control recommendations for potential COVID-19 cases.
Healthcare providers who suspect COVID-19 infection in a patient should report them immediately to DPH by calling 1-866-PUB-HLTH (1-866-782-4584) and ask for a Medical Epidemiologist.