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Coronavirus Cases Trigger EPA Rapid Response

For Release:  January 29, 2020

To minimize risk to its citizens, the U.S. government is proactively and aggressively working to detect and contain the 2019 novel (new) coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) first discovered in China. As part of these efforts and in response to U.S. cases of the virus, EPA has activated its Emerging Viral Pathogens Guidance for Antimicrobial Pesticides.

Under this guidance, EPA is providing pesticide registrants with a voluntary process to enable the use of certain EPA-registered disinfectant products against this emerging viral pathogen. Using disinfectant products on surfaces can help limit the spread of diseases.

EPA works closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to identify and address emerging pathogens. EPA’s policy will allow both agencies to address COVID-19 in a timely manner, and EPA and CDC will continue to closely monitor developments. Based on what we know right now, the immediate risk to America is low.

Registrants with a pre-qualified emerging viral pathogen designation can include an efficacy statement in technical literature distributed to health care facilities, physicians, nurses, public health officials, non-label-related websites, consumer information services, and social media sites.

Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, meaning they are one of the easiest to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product.

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses cause numerous illnesses, from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). First identified in Wuhan, China, the COVID-19 is a new strain that had not been previously seen in humans.

Emerging pathogens are an increasing public health concern in the United States and globally. EPA developed its guidance to address emerging pathogens such as coronaviruses. Many of the emerging pathogens of greatest concern are pathogenic viruses, and the ability of some of these viruses to persist on environmental surfaces can play a role in human disease transmission.

Because the occurrence of emerging viral pathogens is less common and predictable than established pathogens, few if any EPA-registered disinfectant product labels specify use against these infectious agents. Also, the pathogens are often unavailable commercially and standard methods for laboratory testing may not exist.

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