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Evaluating and Reporting Persons Under Investigation


Criteria to Guide Evaluation of Persons Under Investigation (PUI) for 2019-nCoV


For any patient meeting criteria for evaluation for COVID-19, clinicians are encouraged to contact and collaborate with their state or local health department. For patients that are severely ill, evaluation for COVID-19 may be considered even if a known source of exposure has not been identified.


Clinical Features&Epidemiologic Risk
Fever1 or signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g. cough or shortness of breath) AND Any person, including health care workers, who has had close contact2 with a laboratory-confirmed3,4 2019-nCoV patient within 14 days of symptom onset
Fever1 and signs/symptoms of a lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough or shortness of breath) AND A history of travel from Hubei Province, China5 within 14 days of symptom onset
Fever1 and signs/symptoms of a lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough or shortness of breath) requiring hospitalization4 AND A history of travel from mainland China5 within 14 days of symptom onset

The criteria are intended to serve as guidance for evaluation. Patients should be evaluated and discussed with public health departments on a case-by-case basis. For severely ill individuals, testing can be considered when exposure history is equivocal (e.g., uncertain travel or exposure, or no known exposure) and another etiology has not been identified.

Recommendations for Reporting, Testing, and Specimen Collection

Updated February 3, 2020

Healthcare providers should immediately notify both infection control personnel at their healthcare facility and their local or state health department in the event of a PUI for 2019-nCoV. State health departments that have identified a PUI should immediately contact CDC’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 770-488-7100 and complete a 2019-nCoV PUI case investigation form available below.

CDC’s EOC will assist local/state health departments to collect, store, and ship specimens appropriately to CDC, including during afterhours or on weekends/holidays. At this time, diagnostic testing for 2019-nCoV can be conducted only at CDC.

Testing for other respiratory pathogens should not delay specimen shipping to CDC. If a PUI tests positive for another respiratory pathogen, after clinical evaluation and consultation with public health authorities, they may no longer be considered a PUI. This may evolve as more information becomes available on possible 2019-nCoV co-infections.

For biosafety reasons, it is not recommended to perform virus isolation in cell culture or initial characterization of viral agents recovered in cultures of specimens from a PUI for 2019-nCoV.

To increase the likelihood of detecting 2019-nCoV infection, CDC recommends collecting and testing multiple clinical specimens from different sites, including two specimen types—lower respiratory and upper respiratory. Additional specimen types (e.g., stool, urine) may be collected and stored. Specimens should be collected as soon as possible once a PUI is identified regardless of time of symptom onset.  Additional guidance for collection, handling, and testing of clinical specimens is available.


For additional infomration, please visit Center for Disease Control & Prevention.