New York City, state prepare for coronavirus after 2nd confirmed case in US

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Fears of the coronavirus that has killed more than two dozen and sickened hundreds in China are spreading to the United States after a second confirmed case Friday, and New York City and state are making preparations for any local cases.

"With the best emergency response teams in the nation, New York City stands ready to respond to any potential cases of the coronavirus," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "We will remain vigilant and ensure New Yorkers have the facts they need to stay safe."

All city hospitals and health providers are now trained to identify symptoms and evaluate patients who may present symptoms for coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which include cough, shortness of breath, and fever. Additionally, the city has established transport protocols for individuals who may present symptoms of 2019-nCoV and be in need of a medical evaluation, infection prevention and control measures at all New York City hospitals, instructions on specimen collection and other preparations.

While there are presently zero diagnoses in New York City at this time, coronavirus has been detected in hundreds of people worldwide. While initially thought to only spread through prolonged exposure, more recent epidemiology indicates that person-to-person transmission is possible.

While some infections have resulted in severe illness, and even death, others have presented mild, flu-like symptoms and been discharged from care.

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Authorities have instituted travel restrictions in at least 12 cities in China, affecting tens of millions of people, and the CDC remains poised to screen passengers based on need.

To date, no passengers arriving from Wuhan, China, or connecting flights at JFK have needed medical evaluation. However, New York City is fully prepared to transport individuals showing symptoms or who receive positive diagnoses as needed.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has conducted outreach and are 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.

New York state held a similar briefing, with Governor Andrew Cuomo outlining a series of actions to raise awareness and preparations.

The state Department of Health currently has four persons under investigation for coronavirus who are under isolation as their cases are being tested at the CDC. So far, one of these cases has been proven negative, and three are still pending. While the risk for New York is currently low, Cuomo is calling for increased vigilance to ensure New Yorkers are protected.

"As we learn about the first confirmed cases of this novel coronavirus in the United States and potentially in New York, I want to assure New Yorkers that we are prepared," he said. "We are undertaking a wide-reaching and rigorous effort with all stakeholders, including healthcare providers, airports and federal health officials, to put in place the appropriate precautions to keep New Yorkers safe. The symptoms of this virus are very similar to a common cold - if you are concerned that you might be ill, please follow our guidance to protect yourself and others."

The state Department of Health last week issued guidance to healthcare providers, healthcare facilities, clinical laboratories and local health departments to provide updated information about the outbreak, and ensure the proper protocols are in place if a patient is experiencing symptoms consistent with the coronavirus, had a travel history to Wuhan, China, or had come in contact with an individual who was under investigation for coronavirus.

Additionally, the department has hosted a series of informational webinars for hospitals and local healthcare providers.

"This virus is being carefully monitored at federal, state and city levels to ensure the public's health and safety, and while awareness is important, the current risk to New Yorkers is low," New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said. "People who have traveled abroad recently and have symptoms that mimic the flu should see their doctor. We are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control to receive daily updates and stand ready to assist."

The CDC recommends people avoid non-essential travel to Wuhan. For travel deemed essential, the Health Department has shared the following CDC recommendations with healthcare providers regarding travelers to Wuhan:
--Avoid contact with sick people
--Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat);
--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.
--Older travelers and those with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to Wuhan with their healthcare provider.

For those who recently traveled to Wuhan and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, CDC recommends:
--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.
--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.

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