Hospital: No coronavirus in Twin Counties

Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and PreventionThis illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed with an electron microscope.

No one in the Twin Counties has been tested for the novel coronavirus at Columbia Memorial Health as of Tuesday, officials said.

“No one has met the criteria for testing,” Bill Van Slyke, spokesman for Columbia Memorial Health, said Tuesday.

More than 900 deaths from the virus have been reported worldwide, all but two in China, but more than 40,000 people have been infected worldwide, making the mortality rate roughly 2%, according to the World Health Organization.

As concerns grow globally over the outbreak that originated in China, there are no confirmed cases in New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

Statewide, 23 people have been tested for the virus so far, and 22 have come back negative, according to the governor’s office. One test sample from New York City is still pending.

“We are continuing to take every necessary precaution to protect New Yorkers from this virus,” Cuomo said in a statement. “While there are no confirmed cases of the virus in New York state, I urge everyone to continue to take common-sense precautions, such as regular hand-washing and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.”

Kimberly Kaplan, director of public health for Greene County, could not be reached for comment at press time.

The Columbia County Department of Health released a statement last week concerning the outbreak.

“The Columbia County Department of Health is actively monitoring for potential cases of coronavirus and is taking precautions to limit the impact if the virus is found in Columbia County,” according to the health department.

Screening protocols are in place and guidance has been established for both health care providers and the general public, according to the health department.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is monitoring the outbreak, has established exposure risk categories to help guide optimal public health management of people following potential exposure to the virus. The county health department classifies the county’s risk as low at this time.

Van Slyke agreed the local risk is low.

A key factor with the coronavirus is a travel history to China within the last two weeks, according to the Columbia County health department’s statement.

Dr. Howard Zucker, state Health Department Commissioner, said the chance of contracting the virus is low.

“We are working with local health departments to investigate and monitor possible exposures. Our hospitals and health care providers continue to take steps to minimize the spread of the virus,” Zucker said.

There is no vaccine for the novel coronavirus, but everyday preventive actions can help stop the spread of the virus and other respiratory viruses, according to the governor’s website, such as washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; staying home when you are sick; covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throwing it in the trash; and cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.

Symptoms of novel coronavirus include mild to severe respiratory symptoms such as cough, fever, trouble breathing and pneumonia, according to the state Health Department. Symptoms are thought to appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus, according to the CDC.

If you have questions about the novel coronavirus, call the state Health Department hotline at 1-888-364-3065.

Tribune News Service contributed to this report.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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