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Health alert statement and recommendations from the World Health Organization and the CDC

On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. The virus did not match any other known virus. This raised concern because when a virus is new, there is no information regarding how it affects people.

One week later, on 7 January, Chinese authorities confirmed that they had identified a new virus. The new virus is a coronavirus, which is a family of viruses that include the common cold, and viruses such as SARS and MERS. This new virus was temporarily named “2019-nCoV.”

WHO has been working with Chinese authorities and global experts from the day cases were notified, to learn more about the virus, how it affects the people who are sick with it, how they can be treated, and what countries can do to respond.   

Confirmed exported cases have been reported in many Asian countries and also one case in the United States. Panamanian health authorities have indicated there are currently NO CASES reported in Panama. Per WHO instructions, all countries are being required to prepare for early detection in ports of entry, installment of isolation treatment wards, and international data sharing regarding possible cases.

World Health Organization Recommendations:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
  • When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
  • The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.

If you traveled to China in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. 
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

At ISP we…

  • Continue promoting handwashing as a daily habit for our students.
  • We are closely monitoring students with flu-like or respiratory symptoms and contacting parents in accordance with our procedures to avoid the spread of illnesses in our community.
  • Asking parents to keep students at home if they are running a fever, cough or present runny noses.
  • Closely monitoring the development of this novel Coronavirus and implementing recommendations from the WHO and CDC.


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