The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has responded to the recent spread of novel coronavirus in China — and news of the first U.S. cases this week — by establishing web site updates for consumers and health care providers, holding a call with health care providers on Jan. 23, and issuing All Facilities Letter (AFL) 20-09, which details recommendations for health care facilities along with the latest clinical information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The outbreak began in China last month, where a novel coronavirus was identified as the cause of a pneumonia outbreak. This week, CDC announced two U.S. cases of travelers who returned from Wuhan, China. Currently, there are no confirmed cases in California.
The AFL includes infection control guidance, criteria for evaluating patients under investigation (PUI), and the following recommendations for health care facilities:
- Obtain a travel history for all patients presenting with fever and acute respiratory illness.
- Place signage, implement travel history screening at triage, and review procedures for immediately placing symptomatic patients with a positive travel history in a surgical mask and private room — ideally an airborne infection isolation room if possible.
- Immediately contact the local health department and your infection preventionist if a patient meets CDC’s criteria for PUI.
- Review infection control guidance for potential coronavirus patients. Ensure your facility’s infection control policies are consistent with CDC’s Interim Infection Control Precautions for Patients Under Investigation for Novel Coronavirus.
- Review procedures for collection of laboratory specimens for novel coronavirus testing and laboratory biosafety guidelines. Laboratory workers should wear appropriate personal protective equipment, which includes disposable gloves, laboratory coat/gown, and eye protection when handling potentially infectious specimens.
CDPH also notes that, because novel coronavirus meets the criteria for a novel aerosol transmissible pathogen under the California Occupational Safety Health Administration’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standard, employers must provide a powered air purifying respirator with a High Efficiency Particulate Air filter(s), or a respirator providing equivalent or greater protection, to employees who perform high-hazard procedures on novel coronavirus PUIs or confirmed cases.
Hospitals are encouraged to review the AFL for full details.
CDPH hosted a call for health care providers on Jan. 23, which CHA participated in. During the call, CDPH explained the recommendations it makes in the AFL and noted that CDPH personnel are available 24 hours per day. Hospitals can direct any questions about novel coronavirus to CDPH at email@example.com.