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Information on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus

02/04/2020 3:38 PM | Anonymous

Information taken from a message from Cliff Holtz, American Red Cross Chief Operation Officer.

Over the past week, there has been much interest and discussion regarding the outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which has recently been identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and other locations worldwide. 

On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of this 2019 Coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. While there is uncertainty about how this situation will evolve, the immediate risk in the U.S. remains relatively low.

Internal Taskforce 
As an organization, the American Red Cross has decades of experience responding to these emerging global health emergencies, and is fortunate to have tremendous expertise and institutional knowledge on staff who are working closely with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration to collaborate and advise.

Red Cross has pulled together an enterprise-wide taskforce from all lines of service and functional departments to ensure messaging alignment, coordinated outreach as needed, and line of sight into all related operational activities or process changes related to this virus. 

Response Efforts
At this time, the American Red Cross is closely monitoring the spread of this 2019 coronavirus. To ensure Red Cross is prepared and coordinated, a  nationally led level 3 Disaster Relief Operation and an Operation Order detailing potential American Red Cross services has been issued. The organization is currently working with government agencies and state officials to determine what Red Cross support may be needed in the coming days and weeks. 

Overseas, the Red Cross of China is supporting its government to help meet the huge and sudden demand for medical items including masks and gowns. International Red Cross societies are also working with health authorities to educate communities about how to mitigate the spread of this virus and informing people how to stay healthy.

Blood Safety
Scientific experts state that the risk of contracting any coronavirus through a blood transfusion is extremely low because of the current domestic health screening process for blood donors.  To date, there have been no reported transfusion transmissions of respiratory viruses including coronaviruses and influenza-like viruses worldwide.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Red Cross is working to implement a deferral for individuals who have traveled to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau. Right now, the Red Cross asks that all individuals who have traveled to China self-defer, or to postpone their blood or platelet donation until 28 days following return to the U.S.

On Feb.10, the Red Cross will formally implement this travel deferral, once employee training and process updates are completed.  Red Cross will continue to evaluate all emerging risks in collaboration with AABB, FDA and CDC to determine if additional intervention strategies will be needed as the situation evolves.

Health Safety Tips
As always, Red Cross urges simple precautions to prevent the spread of any respiratory infection. Here are a couple quick tips you can use now and all year-round:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.

For the latest information on the coronavirus outbreak, please visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.

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