LA GRANDE — Union County health officials reported they are closely monitoring developments related to the 2019 novel coronavirus.

The virus is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China. According to the news release from the Center for Human Development Inc., Union County Public Health Department and others, local health officials are taking the new virus seriously but consider the risk of getting the coronavirus in Oregon remains low.

"Because this is a new (novel) coronavirus that has not been previously identified, we are learning more about it every day," according to the news release, "and it is difficult to predict exactly how widespread it will become. It is not clear yet how easily 2019-nCoV spreads from person-to-person."

Some viruses are highly contagious, such as measles, while other viruses are less so. However, as with any virus, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and prevent the spread:

•Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

•Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

•Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

•Stay home when you are sick.

•Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

•Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Influenza is much more widespread in the United States and has caused more deaths than coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated during the 2018–19 season 35.5 million people became sick with influenza, 16.5 million people went to a health care provider for their illness, 490,600 were hospitalized and 34,200 people died from influenza.

"There is a vaccine for influenza, and it is not too late to get it," the news release stated. Contact your health care provider or the Center for Human Development at 541-962-8800 to schedule your vaccine appointment.

The news release also advised avoiding nonessential travel to Wuhan, China. If you traveled there or been in close contact with someone who has and have flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath and sore throat), contact your health care provider for guidance on how to get help. And be sure to call before arriving.

For more information about public health, please visit the center’s website: www.chdinc.org .

For more information about the coronavirus, visit the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html .

The CDC also has more information about travel: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/china#travel-notices .

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