Two more people quarantined in coronavirus scare in New York City

A visitor to Bellevue Hospital wears mask as precaution against coronavirus. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Two more people in New York City are awaiting test results for the potentially fatal coronavirus, health department officials announced Wednesday.

Two others remain in hospitals in Queens awaiting test results after they felt ill after having recently been in China. They and the two new patients reported fever, cough or shortness of breath without another common cause, similar to influenza and other respiratory viruses, identified through testing.

Another person who visited Bellevue Hospital on Friday for symptoms of the virus was cleared through testing by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. The city has appealed to the CDC to allow the high tech labs at Bellevue to be able to do the tests instead of having to send the samples to Atlanta – a 36-48 hours waiting period, not including the shipping time.

Both patients are under 40 years of age, officials say. One has been hospitalized and the other did not have symptoms severe enough to require hospitalization. Per CDC guidance, that individual will remain under appropriate isolation precautions and daily monitoring by the Health Department.

Michael Lanza, spokesman for the Health Department, said the location and the hospitals are not being disclosed at this time.

“New York City is on high alert and prepared to handle any confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “My message to New Yorker’s remains the same: if you have the travel history and are exhibiting symptoms, please see your health provider immediately.”

“This is exactly what we prepared for and is evidence that the system in place is working as it should,” said Health Commissioner Dr. 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.”

Health Commissioner Dr. Oxris Barbot talks about the virus at a Chinatown news conference on Sunday. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

There are now 11 confirmed cases in the United States and over 20,000 worldwide. More than 450 people have died in China from the virus – some of those reported to have already been health compromised.  The Health Department will post New York City updates on the Department’s coronavirus page at 10:30 a.m. EST every weekday and issue a press release with updates weekly.

The novel coronavirus is a strain of coronavirus that has not been previously detected in humans. This novel 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. 

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.

On Sunday, community leaders from Chinatown joined elected officials to encourage visitors to attend the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade on Sunday, February 9. Leaders are worried that “unwarranted fear of the virus will hurt the Chinese business community.” Council Speaker Corey Johnson told a crowd last Sunday that businesses in Chinatown, Flushing and Sunset Park were already losing business.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson talks about the virus and urges people to attend Chinatown parade. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

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.

A Chinatown merchant wears masks as a precaution. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

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