An outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread throughout China and to 31 other countries and territories, including the United States.

COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those of influenza (e.g., fever, cough, and shortness of breath), and the current outbreak is occurring during a time of year when respiratory illnesses from influenza and other viruses, including other coronaviruses that cause the “common cold,” are highly prevalent. To prevent influenza and possible unnecessary evaluation for COVID-19, all persons aged ≥6 months should receive an annual influenza vaccine; vaccination is still available and effective in helping to prevent influenza.

To decrease the risk for respiratory disease, persons can practice recommended preventive measures.

Persons ill with symptoms of COVID-19 who have had contact with a person with COVID-19 or recent travel to countries with apparent community spread should communicate with their health care provider. Before seeking medical care, they should consult with their provider to make arrangements to prevent possible transmission in the health care setting. In a medical emergency, they should inform emergency medical personnel about possible COVID-19 exposure.

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