Possible case of coronavirus in N.C. under investigation

Officials said the virus has killed two people and infected dozens in China. / (MGN)
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WBTV) - The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is investigating a possible case of infection with the newly-discovered coronavirus.

According to a Friday press release, officials say the individual recently traveled to China and passed through Wuhan City, where the outbreak originated, but had not visited the seafood and animal market that was linked to many early cases.

This person arrived at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. The person had mild respiratory symptoms and is currently in good condition and being cared for in isolation at Duke University Hospital.

The Division of Public Health is arranging testing for the novel coronavirus at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A diagnosis cannot be confirmed at this time.

DHHS says they will update the public as soon as the results from the CDC are available.

“Although it is unlikely that this person was infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus, we are conducting testing out of an abundance of caution,” said Dr. Zack Moore, State Epidemiologist. “If you haven’t traveled to Wuhan in the past two weeks, your risk of infection with this virus is very low.”

Officials say the person did not have close contact with anyone after disembarking at the airport in North Carolina and wore a mask the entire time while at the airport.

The person was taken directly to the hospital from RDU for assessment and care using appropriate infection prevention measures. People who were at RDU or the hospital at the same time as this individual was present are not considered at risk for infection.

If infection with the coronavirus is confirmed, officials say DPH will work closely with the CDC and local partners to reach out to people who came in close contact with the person on the airline flights.

Travelers to Wuhan who develop a fever or respiratory symptoms, including cough and difficulty breathing, within 14 days of leaving Wuhan should contact their doctor right away and should call ahead before going to the clinic, urgent care or emergency room so appropriate steps can be taken to avoid exposing others. Testing for the coronavirus is only available at CDC currently.

The North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health is preparing to implement the CDC-developed test to detect novel coronavirus once it is distributed to state public health laboratories.

DPH is working closely with the CDC, local public health partners and health care providers to evaluate this case and prepare for any future potential cases in North Carolina. At present, the vast majority of cases have been diagnosed in people who live in or traveled to Wuhan, China.

To date, there have been no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in North Carolina. To date, there are only two confirmed cases in the United States.

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