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Another suspected coronavirus case as five others are cleared, including three in New York City

Only a handful of celebrants at the parade actually wore a mask on Sunday. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

The city Department of Health identified a sixth person to be tested for the potentially fatal coronavirus on Saturday, just as they clear five cases that had worried New Yorkers for the past week.

The sixth person, unidentified and who’s origin in the city was also not given, was tested on Saturday – and the agency expects testing results from the Centers for Disease Control as soon as Tuesday.

The first of the suspected cases was reported on Jan. 31 after a woman under 40 checked into Bellevue Hospital after returning from a trip to China. Out of an “abundance of caution” the hospital quarantined her until the results by the CDC lab could be released.

Four other cases were also reported, two in Queens, and two others not identified. All were tested and three of the four were residents of New York City, and one other from out-of-town. All four were found to be negative for the virus.

Officials have said there are numerous types of viruses going around this winter, in addition to the flu. Health officials urge residents to get the flu shot, which killed thousands each year nation-wide.

The city has appealed to the CDC to supply test kits to be performed here in New York City. The CDC announced this past week that they are preparing the kits to be sent to major cities across the country.  There are 12 confirmed coronavirus cases in six states including six in California at this time. In China, where the virus began in Wuhan Province, thousands have been infected and more than 1,000 people have died.

Over the weekend, nearly 20,000 people attended the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade where some feared the virus might impact turnout. Instead, the streets were filled with people amid colorful dragons and pageantry.

Elected officials have expressed dismay that some people have become biased against Chinese Americans and all have said racism “will not be tolerated,” even as no cases of coronavirus have been yet identified in the city.

“This is exactly what we prepared for and is evidence that the system in place is working as it should,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “We are fortunate that the test results from our first person under investigation came back negative, but we expect to see more people presenting to health care facilities with symptoms of the novel coronavirus.”

This coronavirus can lead to symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath. While some infections have resulted in severe illness, and even death, others have presented with milder symptoms and been discharged from care, health officials said.

The Health Department is continuing to monitor the evolving worldwide situation daily, including the latest data on transmissions, incubation, new cases, and guidance. The Department has distributed educational materials so that people have the facts about how to protect themselves and their families from coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses, what to do if they feel unwell and have a travel history to affected areas, and other important information about this disease.

The Health Department has conducted outreach and is providing guidance to local community-based organizations and health care providers serving our communities to inform them of the necessary precautions they need to take if someone with symptoms of coronavirus visits them.

Health officials say those who feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and traveled to Hubei Province China—or been in contact with a confirmed case the novel coronavirus — within 14 days of symptom onset:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about recent travel and symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

For more information about the coronavirus, visit the Heath Department website at nyc.gov/health.

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