Government, Healthcare, Latest News

Four in Morgantown under precautionary coronavirus quarantine

MORGANTOWN — According to the Monongalia County Health Department, there are six individuals — including four in the Morgantown area — under a precautionary 14-day self quarantine in response to the spread of novel coronavirus.

The individuals are not exhibiting the flu-like symptoms associated with the deadly virus, but are exercising an abundance of caution following travel from China or, in one case, work screening passengers arriving from China.

This new virus started in Wuhan, Hubei province, China in late 2019, and has made its way to parts of the U.S. via travelers. Latest numbers indicate the virus has claimed nearly 500 lives and infected just under 24,000 people worldwide.

“Luckily, in the state of West Virginia, we have zero cases,” Monongalia County Health Officer Lee Smith said during Wednesday’s Monongalia County Commission meeting. “We have some individuals who are being observed, looking for signs and symptoms.”

Three individuals have ties to WVU. According to Smith, one is a student, one is from the school of public health and one is a chemical engineer.

WVU Spokesman John Bolt reiterated that measures being taken are purely precautionary.

“No one connected with West Virginia University has a suspected case of the Novel coronavirus,” Bolt explained. “There are, however, three WVU-related individuals who recently traveled to China — although not the epicenter of the virus — who have taken precautions on their own or under medical advice, including self-quarantining for the recommended 14 days, to ensure they do not show symptoms of the virus.”

A fourth local individual undergoing quarantine is an employee of NIOSH, or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, who worked screening passengers arriving from China.

Smith said the other two individuals under precautionary self quarantine are in Wheeling and recently returned from Hubei province, where they celebrated the Chinese New Year.

According to Smith, the virus is especially dangerous to individuals on the extreme ends of the age spectrum or those dealing with other health issues.

“So far, we haven’t been required to have large numbers, and hopefully, being a little bit off the beaten track, we may dodge the bullet,” Smith said. “But time will answer all those questions.”

Individuals who present with symptoms of upper respiratory illness, including fever of at least 101.4 degrees, a cough and shortness of breath, are asked to avoid emergency rooms, urgent care facilities and physicians office, and should instead reach out to the WVU Medical Access and Referral System at 304-598-6000 or Mon Health Medical Center, at 304-285-3798.