Wake County, NC health officials working to together amid coronavirus outbreak in China

Capitol Report

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Amid a coronavirus outbreak in China, there are five confirmed cases in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency is investigating a total of 110 possible cases.

During a conference call Monday, CDC officials said the confirmed cases have occurred in four states: California, Arizona, Washington and Illinois.

North Carolina is not among them after a patient who was concerned they had contracted the virus ended up testing negative for it.

On Friday, CBS 17 learned a person who had traveled through Wuhan City, China, arrived at RDU Airport with what health officials described as “mild upper respiratory symptoms.” That person was placed in isolation at Duke University Hospital. Over the weekend, the CDC confirmed that patient had not contracted the coronavirus.

“We understand that many people in the United States are worried about this virus and how it will affect Americans. Risk depends on exposure,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, of the CDC.

The CDC is looking into 110 reports of people possibly contracting the novel coronavirus in 26 states.

The CDC says five of those people have tested positive, 32 have tested negative and 73 are still pending. The testing is being done by the CDC.

Messonnier said it could still be another week or two before testing is made available to state health departments.

Christopher Kippes, public health director for Wake County, said his agency worked with the state on the response to the patient who traveled to RDU.

“One of the ways that this new virus is different is that we don’t have local testing to rule out whether or not it is the new virus,” he said, noting that the patient’s travel history is critical to understand. All confirmed cases in the U.S. have been among people who traveled to China.

In the U.S., the CDC says there has been no transmission of the virus from person to person. 

“It is sometimes a fine line in public health when we have to provide information, especially when it’s a new condition or a new virus to help educate people and try not to scare them,” Kippes said. “Certainly when things are new and involves our health, we have a tendency I think to be a little fearful.”

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