Outbreaks of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) continue to take place across the globe. On Feb. 24, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) broadened its advisory to avoid all nonessential travel to include South Korea in addition to China.

Here are three things to know about what this means for the Brigham.

  1. South Korea has been added to travel and screening policies. In conjunction with other Partners HealthCare institutions, the Brigham has extended patient screening guidelines, best practices advisories and employee travel/furlough policies to include South Korea. More details about these procedures and policies are available at BWHPikeNotes.org.
  2. Locally, flu is a far more prevalent and immediate public health risk at this time. The immediate risk of COVID-19 to the American public is still believed to be low, although the CDC has warned that more cases might be forthcoming. As of Feb. 26, there was only one confirmed case in Massachusetts and 13 cases diagnosed elsewhere in the U.S., and none of these U.S. cases has resulted in death. By comparison, the CDC estimates that at least 29 million people in the U.S. will contract influenza this winter, and an estimated 16,000 will die from it.
  3. COVID-19 preparedness efforts at the Brigham continue. Brigham clinicians continue to screen patients for COVID-19 in the Emergency Department (ED) and ambulatory locations. New posters and signage provide guidance for patients and visitors. Formal training programs on the safe use of personal protective equipment are underway. A multidisciplinary team is conducting training drills in the ED, the Medical Intensive Care Unit and other areas. The team is also developing surge plans in case the Brigham receives a large number of COVID-19 patients.

Visit BWHPikeNotes.org for more information and resources about COVID-19.