By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

OPM may issue guidance on Wuhan coronavirus

In a Feb. 3 memo sent to agency heads, the Office of Personnel Management announced it was partnering with the Center for Disease Control to educate the federal community about the respiratory illness known as Wuhan coronavirus and ways to prevent further spread.

Additionally, OPM Director Dale Cabaniss said, the agency will issue guidance if necessary" as soon as possible to assist agencies in meeting two equally important goals: (1) the safety of the Federal workforce, and (2) the continuity of operations."

Coronavirus, whose official name is 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), originated in Wuhan City, China in late 2019. Some 20,630 cases and 426 deaths have been reported worldwide, according to a Feb. 4 situation report from the World Health Organization, though only one of those deaths was outside China. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, and fever, according to the CDC. It's thought to spread via close contact between people.

WHO declared the virus a public health emergency of international concern on Jan. 30.

Despite this, "the risk of contracting 2019-nCoV remains very low," Cabaniss said in the memo. "Agencies should remind employees to use good health habits such as hand washing and encourage sick employees to seek medical treatment and use sick leave or other appropriate workplace flexibilities." She also encouraged "social distancing" to prevent spread, such as allowing employees to telework "where necessary."

On Feb. 2, the State Department issued a warning against traveling to China and barred foreign nationals who have visited China recently from entering the U.S. for two weeks. Many U.S. airlines have also cancelled service to mainland China and quarantines have been instituted to redirect travelers who have visited China since the outbreak and who are returning to the U.S. for special screening.

Reader comments

Mon, Feb 10, 2020 Jason DC

China and Hong Kong outlawed masks. Now it's illegal NOT to wear one. That's gooberment for ya.

Wed, Feb 5, 2020

So relieved government restricting entry to U.S. It seems many sick people think nothing of contaminating others--won't stay home.

Wed, Feb 5, 2020 Withheld

Wow! Just Wow! What a joke. First they take away telework then they say we should use workplace flexibilities...I guess politicians (read stupid people) really can have their cake and eat it too!

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