The World Health Organization (WHO) has now announced an official name for the virus – “COVID-19”.
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) – often referred to as just the “Coronavirus” – is an emerging worldwide situation being closely monitored by health agencies. While the US situation is currently being managed with a low risk to the general American public, community pharmacists are still being educated on their role in the outbreak. Whether or not your state has been affected, it is a good idea to stay informed on the situation and be prepared to address your patients’ concerns.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) most updated situation report as of February 11, 2020 assesses the impact of the virus worldwide. Globally, there have been 43,103 total cases, with 2560 new cases in the last 24 hours. As of now, the United States has 13 total cases, with 1 newly reported case. States currently affected include: Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) just released a survey revealing that patients are more concerned about the Coronavirus than pharmacists are, which is no surprise after seeing the shortages of medical face masks in pharmacies. 32% of pharmacists surveyed said they believe the Coronavirus is a significant threat to the United States. However, they report that 54% of their patients are worried about the virus. Despite the media influence on the severity of the outbreak, it is important to remain objective and be prepared nonetheless.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has thorough coverage of the virus’ development, as well as an informative guide with recommended actions for healthcare professionals. Familiarize yourself with the situation and be prepared to answer any questions your patients may have. The CDC does expect that “person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in the United States.” As this is a constantly emerging situation, it is crucial for healthcare professionals not to let their guard down.
The International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) has also just released a Health Advisory Guide with “information and interim guidelines for pharmacists and the pharmacy workforce.” You may also consult the FIP’s Decision-Tree Flowchart for steps on addressing patient situations. Community pharmacists continue to be a critical touchpoint in informing the public and managing health situations such as the novel Coronavirus outbreak.
Keep checking all the resources above for new announcements and updates, and remind your patients to continue being proactive this flu season.