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45 Virginia Travelers Monitored For Coronavirus Exposure

Patch logo Patch 2/14/2020 Mark Hand
a close up of a toy: Forty-five travelers in Virginia are under public health monitoring for exposure to the new coronavirus. © Shutterstock Forty-five travelers in Virginia are under public health monitoring for exposure to the new coronavirus.

VIRGINIA — Forty-five travelers in Virginia are under public health monitoring for exposure to the new coronavirus, according to the latest figures from the Virginia Department of Health. The department is closely monitoring reports of illness in Virginia potentially associated with the coronavirus, which now officially is called COVID-19, and is providing updated information every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Twelve of the 45 travelers in Virginia are considered at low risk for exposure to the virus, the department said Friday. Low-risk travelers include U.S.-based air crew members and private travelers who have flown through or had layovers in mainland China in the last 14 days.

Thirty-three of the travelers getting monitored are considered medium risk, and include those who have traveled from mainland China in the last 14 days.

The 45 travelers under public health monitoring are separate from patients under investigation by the Virginia Department of Health. As of Friday, six people across the state, including three in Northern Virginia, have tested negative for coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is conducting expanded screening for the virus at 20 airports across the U.S., including Dulles Airport. These airports cover about 90 percent of travelers arriving from China. Officials at the airports on the list check any travelers from China for temperatures and ask them questions about their travel and health. Anyone with symptoms receives further evaluation.

COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that is believed to have first emerged in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Chinese health officials have reported tens of thousands of cases of COVID-19 in China, with the virus reportedly spreading from person-to-person in parts of that country. Chinese health officials said Friday that deaths from COVID-19 cases in that country are approaching 1,400.

COVID-19 illnesses also are being reported in a growing number of international locations. At least 25 countries, including the United States, have confirmed cases Some person-to-person spread of the virus outside China has been detected. The United States reported the first confirmed instance of person-to-person spread with this virus on Jan. 30, according to the CDC.

COVID-19 is caused by a member of the coronavirus family that's a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past. Although it is considered a serious public health concern by the CDC, the agency maintains that based on the current information available, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 to the general public in the United States is considered low.

Symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, cough, and trouble breathing, and can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure.

While there is currently no vaccine for this novel coronavirus, you can take preventative actions every day to help stop the spread of this and other respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
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