Three possible coronavirus cases now being tested in NYC
Over the weekend, three people in New York City were identified for testing for the novel coronavirus, the New York City Health Department said. The possible cases have not yet been confirmed.
The first individual, a woman under 40 years old, was hospitalized at Bellevue Medical Center in stable condition on Saturday.
The other two individuals, who are over 60-years-old, were hospitalized in stable condition on Sunday at Flushing Hospital Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Queens.
All had recently been in mainland China and presented with fever and cough or shortness of breath not caused by other common illnesses like influenza and other cold viruses.
Testing to determine whether these are confirmed cases of coronavirus will take a minimum of 36-48 hours and depends on the testing capacity of the Centers for Disease Control, according to the Health Department.
“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 Sunday. “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.”
“We are continuing to work closely with our partners at the CDC, state and federal government as the coronavirus situation evolves,” Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said. “If you have traveled to the area affected by the outbreak in the last 14 days and feel unwell, call your doctor or visit a clinic, and you will be cared for. Also, practice everyday precautions like you would during flu season—wash your hands frequently, and cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze.”
There are now eight confirmed cases in the United States and more than 14,000 worldwide, most in China. At least 300 people have died, according to the Health Department.
The Health Department says it has not received the results of the first CDC test, and will share information as soon as the results are provided. So far, only six of the 120 cases tested by the CDC in the U.S. were confirmed as coronavirus.
A Health Department spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle that the patients’ addresses or time spent in the city before notifying officials could not be revealed as a matter of patient confidentiality.
Top officials from the NYC Department of Health, NYC Emergency Management, FDNY, NYPD, Health + Hospitals and other agencies have been planning for the outbreak, and ran a tabletop exercise on handling it on Feb. 24.
The Brooklyn Borough President’s office is coordinating a multi-lingual initiative in cooperation with all the involved health agencies to get the word out about the virus, with a particular focus on Brooklyn’s Asian communities. This includes distributing informational flyers in three languages (English, Spanish and Chinese) and combating the spread of misinformation.
The coronavirus family includes SARS, MERS and the common cold, and is zoonotic, meaning it jumps from animals (frequently bats) to humans.
Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, often leading to pneumonia. The death rate is unknown as of yet, but it appears to spread very quickly. Some very rough estimates have each infected person spreading the virus to 2.6 other people, but that figure could change as more information becomes available.
For those who feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have either traveled to China or been in contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus within 14 days of symptom onset, CDC recommends seeking medical care immediately.
Before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room, however, call ahead and tell them about your travel and symptoms. Avoid contact with others.
The number of people getting the flu and dying from it is still significantly higher than those getting the coronavirus, and health officials are urging people to get flu shots. CDC estimates that so far this flu season there have been at least 15 million illnesses, 140,000 hospitalizations and 8,200 deaths from influenza. New York City reported a high rate of flu during the week ending Jan. 18, the latest data available.
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