PAAO Statement regarding current coronavirus outbreak


We are all aware of the current coronavirus (2019-nCoV) originating from the city of Wuhan, China. The 2019-nCoV virus (COVID-19) has been known to cause severe respiratory infections, including pneumonia and difficulty in breathing. Fever may also occur.

It is important to note that this virus is spreading more rapidly than other viruses such as SARS coronavirus or MERS coronavirus, however to date, there have not been as many fatalities as with these other viruses.

There are anecdotal cases of conjunctivitis reported, therefore patients may present to the ophthalmologist. Some clinical features that are important to keep in mind for patients presenting with viral conjunctivitis are:

  • Has your patient recently traveled internationally?
  • Does their international travel include a recent trip to China or with family members recently back from China?
  • Does your patient also have respiratory symptoms?

Please keep in mind that due to the features of this virus, it is strongly recommended that health care providers protect their mouths, nose (e.g., an N-95 mask) or eyes (e.g., goggles or shield) when caring for patients potentially infected with 2019-nCoV.

We are keeping the Chinese population, as well as those affected worldwide in our thoughts during this epidemic, which we hope will resolve shortly.


Miguel N. Burnier Jr. MD PhD
Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology

On behalf of the PAAO Executive Committee

Other Resources


World Health Organization

Centers for Disease Control-USA