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Novel Coronavirus COVID-19

As you may be aware, in December 2019, a new strain of coronavirus was identified in Wuhan, China; novel coronavirus (COVID-19). To date there have been no cases reported in Saudi Arabia, however, there is a growing list of countries reporting cases of COVID-19. 

View types of coronaviruses

We recommend that you consult ‘Travel Notices’ on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website for regularly updated notices related to risk level and advice.

As advised by the CDC, it is recommended to avoid all nonessential travel to the Hubei Province, in China, including Wuhan. The Saudi Ministry of Health, in coordination with Civil Aviation Authority, has advised that travelers arriving from China will be checked at the point of entry and infection control measures will be applied as needed.

A New Name: COVID-19

The World Health Organization (WHO) has named the novel coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19. The CO stands for corona, the VI for virus, and the D for disease. The name avoids any reference to particular groups of people or locations to avoid stigmatization.

COVID-19 Overview

The novel coronavirus, now known as SARS-CoV-2, was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It is from the family of viruses that includes the common cold, SARS-CoV, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

How does COVID-19 spread?

Evidence suggests that COVID-19, like other coronaviruses such as (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), can be transmitted from one person to another by:

  • Droplets from coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.

The current epidemiology identifies individuals who have recently traveled to China, or who have had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

If you fit the description above, and within 14 days, you develop flu-like symptoms, such as high temperature, sore throat, coughing or breathlessness seek medical assistance.

Please call the JHAH Nurse Care Line to speak to an experienced healthcare professional, phone: 800-305-4444, option 3, for JHAH-registered patients, or to your registered health care provider, so precautions can be taken to protect other patients from infection and staff can appropriately triage the at-risk patient. In addition, practice personal hygiene, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and wear a mask.

Outside of clinic hours please go to the Emergency Department.

In addition, avoid contact with others; do 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 to avoid spreading the virus to others. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Please wear a mask.

Receiving a package or letter from China will not put you at risk of contracting the new coronavirus COVID-19.  Coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.   

Expert Insight

"The novel coronavirus COVID-19 is a new strain, identified in Wuhan,
China, from the family of viruses that includes the common cold and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). As confirmed by the Ministry of Health, no cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 have been reported in Saudi Arabia."

Dr. Jaffar Al-Tawfiq
JHAH Director of Infection Control Infectious Disease Specialist

COVID-19 Resources

World Health Organization

COVID-19 educational material and news updates from the World Health Organization (WHO).

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Centers for Disease Control

COVID-19 educational material and situation updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Johns Hopkins University

COVID-19 tracking map with real-time updates on confirmed and recovered cases from Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

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Ministry of Health

The Public Health Emergency Operation Center of the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Saudi Arabia.

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