A new coronavirus called 2019 Novel (new) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was first found in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. This virus had not been found in humans before. This coronavirus can lead to fever, cough and trouble breathing or shortness of breath. There are thousands of diagnosed cases in China and new cases being diagnosed in a number of countries including the United States.
What do we know?
Since this virus is very new, health authorities continue to carefully watch how this virus spreads. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working hard to learn as much as possible about this new virus, so that we can better understand how it spreads and causes illness. The CDC considers this virus to be a serious public health concern. Based on current information the CDC recommends avoiding travel to China. Updated travel information related to 2019‐nCoV can be found at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/warning/novel-coronavirus-china
How Does 2019 Novel (New) Coronavirus Spread?
Health experts believe the virus probably spreads from animals to humans and from person to person. It is not clear yet how easily the virus spreads from person-to-person. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) is not actively circulating among Kentucky at this time. Therefore, there is no need to cancel school or social events, and there is no need for students or school staff to wear surgical masks at school.
There are currently no vaccines available to protect against this virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following ways to minimize the spread of all respiratory viruses, including 2019-nCoV:
- Wash your hands, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. It is especially important to emphasize to students that they should use soap and should wash for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, or cough or sneeze into your elbow – not your hand.
- Stay home if you don’t feel well. Don’t come to school or to work when you are sick.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Get a flu shot if you have not already had one this season. Symptoms
Information to date suggests that 2019-nCoV causes mild-to-moderate illness and symptoms like the flu, including fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Are visitors from China being screened?
Yes, as of February 2nd new screening protocols are conducted for individuals entering the US from China at designated airports.
Schools may have students who attend school and have traveled to various areas in Asia, including China. Students should not be excluded from school or any school activities based on race, country of origin, or recent travel (or a family member’s recent travel), including to any part of China. Schools may only exclude a student if a local health department informs the school that a student must comply with a quarantine order or the student is symptomatic of a communicable or infectious disease pursuant to Education Law §906.
What is Kentucky doing?
Gov. Beshear has unveiled a webpage produced by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services that is designed to answer public questions and to support the medical community as new information becomes available.
While decisions about attendance and about when or whether to cancel classes lie with our local districts, the Kentucky Department for Public Health can close schools when they determine that overall public health would be affected.
The Kentucky Department of Education will continue to rely on guidance from the Department for Public Health and will pass along any pertinent information received to school district personnel, parents and families.
For more information on COVID-19, see:
- A KDE webpage on the coronavirus that includes information on the virus and links to the sample flu plan and talking points for school nurses from the National Association of School Nurses.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ coronavirus webpage, which includes information from the CDC and will be updated as information becomes available.