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CDC issues health alert updating health care facilities on dealing with 2019-nCoV

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health alert over the weekend updating health care facilities on dealing with the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

This new virus started in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, and has made its way to parts of the U.S. via travelers.

Monongalia County Health Department is coordinating with state health officials, local hospitals and first responders to communicate (CDC) messaging aimed at area residents who have recently returned from China.

Anyone who returned from China in the past two weeks and develops upper respiratory symptoms should refrain from visiting an emergency department, urgent care or physician office. Instead, two phone lines in Morgantown are accepting calls from people who want to discuss their symptoms and how to deal with them. This will continue for the foreseeable future.

Those numbers are the WVU Medical Access and Referral System (MARS) line at 304-598-6000 and Mon Health Medical Center at 304-285-3798.

“Not all fevers are coronavirus,” said Dr. Lee B. Smith, MCHD executive director and county health officer. “We are in the midst of influenza season and there are always upper respiratory viruses in our community.

“We want to get a message to those travelers who have returned from China in the past two weeks and who would be returning from China in the near future.”

CDC is closely monitoring the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus. There have been thousands of confirmed cases in China and additional cases have been identified in a growing number of other locations, including the United States.

As of Monday, there were 11 confirmed cases in the U.S. So far, U.S. cases have been in Washington state, California, Arizona, Illinois and Massachusetts.

Symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to other upper respiratory illnesses, including fever (at least 101.4 degrees), a cough and shortness of breath.

Those possibly affected would have traveled to China within the past 14 days or were in contact with someone with a confirmed case within the past 14 days.

“People who traveled in China six months ago or any other time frame outside this two-week window would not need to be concerned with this guidance,” Smith said.

On Monday and Tuesday, Smith worked with officials from WVU Hospitals, Mon Health Medical Center, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, MECCA 911 and the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health to coordinate the response local patients who have been to China recently would receive if they have serious concerns about coronavirus.

Health officials want to avoid individuals with symptoms going to a hospital emergency department, urgent care or physician office and sitting in a waiting room. Anyone with serious concerns about coronavirus will be given instructions to avoid potential transmission of an illness, such as by wearing a face mask and by making a plan with a health care provider to be seen.

On Sunday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said U.S. citizens who were in Hubei province will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine. U.S. citizens who have been in other areas of mainland China will undergo proactive entry health screening and up to 14 days of self-quarantine with health monitoring to ensure they do not have the virus.

“We want to be clear that we are following CDC guidelines and that individuals, depending upon their risk, may be asked to have a two-week self-quarantine,” Smith said.

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