North Carolina health officials investigating possible case of coronavirus

Posted at 4:11 PM, Jan 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-24 16:11:50-05

RALEIGH, N.C. – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is investigating a case of someone who was possibly infected with the newly discovered 2019 coronavirus, health officials announced Friday.

The health department says the possibly affected person flew into Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Thursday. They recently traveled to China and passed through Wuhan City, where the outbreak started, but had not visited the seafood and animal market that was linked to many early cases.

A women wearing a protective face mask delivers a leaflet on coronavirus in Wuhan, in Hong Kong, Friday, Jan 24, 2020. China broadened its unprecedented, open-ended lockdowns to encompass around 25 million people Friday to try to contain a deadly new virus that has sickened hundreds, though the measures’ potential for success is uncertain. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

The person showed mild respiratory symptoms and is currently in good condition while being cared for in isolation at Duke University Hospital, health officials say.

The North Carolina Division of Public Health is arranging testing for the novel coronavirus at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Officials say a diagnosis cannot be confirmed at this time.

DHHS will update the public as soon as the results from the CDC are available.

“Although it is unlikely that this person was infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus, we are conducting testing out of an abundance of caution,” said Dr. Zack Moore, State Epidemiologist. “If you haven’t traveled to Wuhan in the past two weeks, your risk of infection with this virus is very low.”

Health officials say the person did not have close contact with anyone after getting off the plane at the airport and wore a mask the entire time. The person was taken directly to the hospital from RDU for assessment and care using the appropriate infection prevention measures.

People who were at RDU or the hospital at the same time as the possibly infected person are not considered at risk for infection, the health department says. If infection with the 2019 is confirmed, the department will work closely with the CDC and local partners to reach out to people who came into close contact with the person on the flights.

Anyone who traveled to Wuhan and who develop a fever or respiratory symptoms, including cough and difficulty breathing within 14 days of leaving Wuhan should contact their doctor right away and should call ahead before going to the clinic, urgent care or emergency room so appropriate steps can be taken to avoid exposing others.

Testing for the 2019 coronavirus is currently only available at the CDC.

As of Friday, there have been no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in North Carolina. There have only been two confirmed cases in the United States.

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