VIRGINIA (WRIC/WAVY) — The Virginia Department of Health says two of three patients who were being monitored for possibly contracting the new coronavirus have tested negative.
The VDH said Sunday it was investigating three possible cases of the new coronavirus. The VDH said the three residents — two in Central Virginia and one in the northern region — were being monitored closely to prevent the spread of illness.
On Monday, the department said the two Central Virginia patients both tested negative for coronavirus and that test results for the third resident in Northern Virginia are expected this week.
“At this time, Virginia continues to have no confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus 2019-nCoV,” the department said in a release.
“It is evolving and we are rapidly learning,” State epidemiologist Dr. Lillian Peake at the Virginia Department of Health said about the new strain of coronavirus that has now sickened thousands and killed 81 in China.
VDH is not identifying the third patient but over the weekend George Mason University noted it was aware of reports of a Mason student returning from china who is exhibiting symptoms similar to the novel coronavirus.
This comes as the CDC reports nationwide there are 110 people in 26 states now under investigation for the potentially deadly respiratory virus. Still there are only 5 confirmed cases in the U.S.
“The CDC has said that the immediate risk to the American public at large is low,” says Dr. Peake.
The epicenter of the outbreak is Wuhan, China. So far, the CDC reports 2,400 travelers from Wuhan to the U.S. have been screened for the virus. VCU Medical Center is taking no chances and preparing now for the new coronavirus.
“We are very fortunate because we have a unique pathogens unit, the only one in Commonwealth of Virginia,” says Dr. Gonzalo Bearman, VCU’s chair of the Division of Infectious Diseases.
In that special unit a team trained to respond to unique outbreaks like the novel coronavirus would suit up and care for the patient in an isolated room.
“Our healthcare workers would be wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment which includes a face shield, a mask and impermeable gown and glove,” Dr. Bearman explained.
The virus can cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illness, like the common cold, VDH said. Virginia residents are advised to get the flu shot, thoroughly wash your hands and avoid any non-essential travel to the Wuhan province.
In order to monitor the cases and keep Virginians updated, VDH has created a webpage with important information and resources.
VDH officials are encouraging health care providers to ask patients about recent international travel and consider 2019-nCoV infection in patients who have traveled to Wuhan, China within 14 days of the onset of symptoms, including fever and respiratory symptoms.
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