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2019-nCoV: What You Need to Know

As the World Health Organization declares an international public health emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak, Children’s Mercy is taking all precautions to protect our patients, visitors and staff. We have been working with public health officials to get updates on how to characterize the disease, define best treatment practices and strategies to reduce transmission.

Below is some important information to keep you and your loves ones safe. For additional information visit:

What is 2019 novel coronavirus?

The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person to person. This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

Have there been cases of 2019-nCoV in the U.S.?

Yes. The first infection with 2019-nCoV in the United States was reported on Jan. 21, 2020. The current count of cases of infection with 2019-nCoV in the United States is available on CDC’s webpage at

What are the symptoms of 2019-nCoV?

Patients with 2019-nCoV have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath.

How can I help protect myself?

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. There are simple everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. These include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Is there a vaccine?

There is currently no vaccine to protect against 2019-nCoV. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

Is there a treatment?

There is no specific antiviral treatment for 2019-nCoV. People with 2019-nCov can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.

What is Children’s Mercy doing to prepare for 2019-nCoV?

Our team has a top-notch Infection Prevention and Control team led by Dr. Robyn Livingston. The team has put screening procedures in place at our Emergency Department and Urgent Care locations, and at every appointment check-in throughout the hospital and outpatient clinics. There is signage in English, Spanish and Chinese to help identify at-risk individuals, and our nurses have been trained on screening questions to ask every patient and family.

Is there anything else patients/families should know about 2019-nCoV?

While it is always a bit scary when a new virus is discovered, the CDC and state public health officials are working very hard to identify and quarantine infected individuals. Additionally, active investigation of at-risk individuals is also occurring. Most importantly though, we are in the midst of a tough influenza season with more than 10,000 deaths including 68 children so far this season. Please get your flu shot if you haven’t already. It is not too late. There is still a lot of circulating influenza and the vaccine appears to be protective against the influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 strain that is circulating at higher rates than the other strains currently.

Pediatric Infectious Diseases

Director, Infection Control and Prevention Program; Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine; Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Kansas School of Medicine