With only three days left in isolation, an Oneida County resident who recently returned from a trip to China wasn’t showing any symptoms of the novel coronavirus Tuesday, county health officials said.
Health department staff check him daily for symptoms, whether in person, on the phone or electronically, said Director Phyllis Ellis. No one else who may have been exposed to the virus has turned up in Oneida County so far, she said.
All travelers from China are being routed to one of 11 airports, screened upon arrival and quarantined if they were in Hubei or in contact with a confirmed case. Other travelers from mainland China are reported to county health departments at their destination and will be self-isolated in their homes for two weeks, she said.
COVID-19, as the coronavirus has been named, has made more than 73,250 people sick and killed more than 1,800 patients, mostly in China.
But that doesn’t mean precautions haven’t been taken, or public health officials and health care providers aren’t ready to handle suspected or confirmed cases, they said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Health hold regular calls for health care providers and county health departments with the latest information, Ellis said. Doctors have been told how to screen for the coronavirus, she said.
Meanwhile, health system staffers check the CDC and World Health Organization website at least daily, while the health system also educates staff regularly to prepare for confirmed or suspected cases, said Heather Bernard, director of infection prevention for the Mohawk Valley Health System, via email.
If a patients shows up at the hospital, in a doctor’s office or at an urgent care, the procedure is the same: “Isolate the patient promptly, meet the patient’s immediate needs and contact the health department for further direction,” Bernard said.
The health system has airborne infection isolation rooms available, she said.
One difference between the coronavirus and the flu is that the flu only requires contact precautions to protect health care workers, including masks. COVID-19 requires airborne and contact precautions, which also include gowns, gloves, face shield/goggles and respirators, she said.
If any local patients get coronavirus, they will remain in isolation or quarantine until they become asymptomatic, Ellis said. Anyone in contact with a confirmed case will go into isolation or quarantine and be monitored for 14 days, she said.
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