The latest patients in New York - one of whom is under 40 and two over the age of 60 - recently returned from a trip to China and developed “fever and cough or shortness of breath without another common cause,” according to the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Tests for a common cold or flu reportedly came back negative. The tests for potential coronavirus, which are being handled by the Centers for Disease Control, are expected to return in the coming days.
“With the best public health system in the world, New York City stands ready to respond to any confirmed cases of the coronavirus,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “I urge all New Yorkers to remain vigilant, and if you or anyone you know matches the criteria and have recently traveled to the affected areas of China, please see a medical professional.”
Eleven cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed in the United States, with none yet confirmed in New York.
“In situations like this, we take every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of New Yorkers,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “At the same time, perspective is key — and I want to remind people that New York currently has zero confirmed cases of this virus.
"We want all New Yorkers to know that the State and its agencies and authorities are on top of this situation and we will continue doing everything we can to keep people safe.”
New travel restrictions have been announced for flights entering the United States. The Department of Homeland Security said 11 airports, including Newark and JFK, will provide enhanced screenings for passengers who traveled in China within the last two weeks.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the majority of foreign nationals who traveled in China within two weeks of their arrival will be denied entry. Exceptions will be made to the immediate family of U.S. citizens, permanent residents and flight crew.
“We realize this could provide added stress and prolong travel times for some individuals, however public health and security experts agree these measures are necessary to contain the virus and protect the American people," Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement.
"To minimize disruptions, CBP and air carriers are working to identify qualifying passengers before their scheduled flights. Once back in the U.S., it’s imperative that individuals honor self-quarantine directives to help protect the American public
According to the Department of Health, Chinese authorities report most patients in the Wuhan City outbreak have been epidemiologically linked to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting a possible zoonotic origin to the outbreak. The market, now shut down, was located near a train station.
Chinese authorities additionally report that they are monitoring several hundred healthcare workers who are caring for outbreak patients; no spread of this virus from patients to healthcare personnel has been reported to date.
According to health officials, there are seven types of coronaviruses. Most cause respiratory symptoms similar to the common cold, with mild to moderate illness, such as coronaviruses 229E, NL63, OC43 and HKU1. These four types of coronavirus are quite common and not worrisome. Only SARS, MERS and novel coronavirus frequently cause severe illness.
There is currently no vaccine for the coronavirus, though health officials said that “everyday preventative actions can help stop the spread of the virus, including washing hands, avoiding contact with people who are sick and frequently cleaning or disinfecting objects and surfaces.
The Department of Health said the best way to avoid viruses during cold and flu season is:
- Avoid exposure – Avoid close contact with people who are sick with fever and cough.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue away and wash your hands.
- If someone in your home is sick, clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs and faucet handles with a bleach solution. This is especially helpful during flu season, and any time.
- And of course, get a flu shot if you have not already done so.
- Stay home when you are ill to avoid exposing others.
Health officials noted that "since this virus is very new, health authorities continue to carefully watch how this virus spreads. It is probably spread from animals to humans, and it also may be spread from person to person. It's not clear yet how easily novel coronavirus spreads from person-to-person. It's important to know this in order to better understand the risk associated with this virus."
This continues to be a developing story. Check back to Daily Voice for updates.
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