The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), and the Coastal Health District are closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. The virus, COVID-19, was first detected in Wuhan City, China in December 2019, and continues to expand to other countries, including the United States.
The Georgia DPH has not confirmed any COVID-19 cases in Georgia to date.
How is public health responding?
Under the supervision of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), about 200 individuals who have recently returned from China are self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) as of February 12, 2020. These travelers arrived in the U.S. from mainland China outside Hubei Province with no known high-risk exposure. These individuals are asymptomatic (no symptoms) and are self-isolating at home.
DPH receives a list every day from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with the names of Georgia travelers coming from China. DPH epidemiologists contact the individuals by phone to establish a plan for self-monitoring and provide instructions on how to contact DPH before seeking health care if they develop fever, cough or shortness of breath. There are no Georgia travelers who have returned from Wuhan or Hubei Province requiring quarantine.
The CDC and DPH have advised healthcare providers across the state to be alert for patients who have traveled from China and present with fever and respiratory symptoms.
The Department sent out a detailed medical advisory to healthcare providers on reporting, testing, specimen collection and healthcare infection control recommendations for potential coronavirus cases. Healthcare providers who suspect novel coronavirus infection in a patient should report them immediately to DPH by calling 1-866-PUB-HLTH (1-866-782-4584).
Because of domestic and international travel restrictions, few travelers are now entering the US from China. CDC has implemented enhanced health screenings to screen the remaining travelers from that country for illness, with people potentially being subject to a 14-day quarantine.
Routine health screening for infectious disease also happens with the crew of every incoming ship to our Savannah and Brunswick ports.
Guidance for Schools
Georgia DPH Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey issued a letter to educators and school health professionals on February 6 with guidance for responding to this outbreak.
Dr. Toomey’s letter states:
“Students, faculty or staff whose family members have traveled from China in the last 14 days (and are being monitored for symptoms) do not need to be excluded from school. We understand that school staff, parents and the community are concerned about the health and safety of our children, however, it is important to understand the risk of disease transmission and not impose unnecessary restrictions on persons who do not present an immediate health risk.”
Information from CDC
Get information provided by the CDC on our COVID-19: National Information and Guidance page.