City Health Dept. asks some traveling New Yorkers to self-isolate amid coronavirus outbreak

Nurse holding test tube with blood for 2019-nCoV analyzing. Novel Chinese Coronavirus blood test concept
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With two more confirmed New York City coronavirus cases reported Thursday — and more patients anticipated — the de Blasio Administration’s now asking some New Yorkers returning from international travel to self-quarantine.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday afternoon that the city’s Department of Health asks all New Yorkers who are returning from travel to China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea to self-isolate themselves for a 14-day period. This precaution is being taken because of the litany of confirmed coronavirus cases in these nations.

The COVID-19 strain first surfaced in China back in December and has since spread to the U.S. and dozens more countries across the globe.

Thursday’s newest coronavirus cases — involving a man in Manhattan and a woman in Brooklyn, both of whom are in intensive care at local hospitals — were deemed to be of unknown origin. It’s not clear how both patients contracted the illness.

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, the Health Department reported three confirmed coronavirus cases (the other, involving a Manhattan physician who recently visited Iran, was discovered Sunday). Test results for five suspected coronavirus cases are pending.

“As New York City continues to see more cases, I am reminding New Yorkers to remain vigilant, but not alarmed,” de Blasio said. “We are continuing to do everything in our power to keep New Yorkers safe and healthy, and are asking our federal partners to help us increase testing capacity so we can get the job done faster.”

De Blasio also ran through a litany of actions various city government agencies are taking to help curb the spread of coronavirus:

  • City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot ordered any educator, healthcare worker or first responder employed by the city, whom the Health Department deems to be contagious, to submit to COVID-19 testing. Any suspected infected educator, healthcare worker or first responder who declines to be tested shall be ordered to self-quarantine, at home or another location as ordered by the agency, until they no longer pose a potential danger of infection.
  • The Department of Education has advised schools to send home any staff members who are symptomatic. Any student who exhibits coronavirus symptoms will be removed from their class, and their parents will be notified to come pick them up.
  • Four NYPD officers who traveled to China, Italy, Iran and Japan have been in self-isolation since their return. So far, all of them have not exhibited coronavirus symptoms, but they also have not yet returned to work for their respective commands.
  • De Blasio activated the FDNY Incident Management Team, a specially-trained unit of more than 180 FDNY members, to assist the city’s Emergency Management Department in creating an incident action plan related to coronavirus.
  • The Corrections Department is regularly sanitizing and cleaning all transport buses, housing units, dayrooms, showers and common spaces. The agency is also sending home any uniformed staff member who exhibits respiratory ailments, and requiring them to return to work with a doctor’s note indicating clearance from coronavirus or flu.
  • The Staten Island Ferry is following the MTA policy of fully cleaning all ferryboats every 72 hours. NYC Ferry crews are cleaning all vessels daily.
  • The Department for the Aging is developing a plan to visit every week more than 600 senior living centers to make sure that cleaning and care protocols are being met.
  • The city’s Commission on Human Rights is responding to potential hate crimes connected to the fear and stigma from coronavirus. Anyone who believes they are a victim of discrimination because of coronavirus should call 311 and ask for a commission representative.

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