The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has received confirmation through laboratory testing conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that two persons under investigation in Oklahoma tested negative for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which originated in Wuhan, China and has resulted in cases detected in several countries, including six laboratory-confirmed cases in the United States.
Public health officials at the OSDH remain in contact with local, state and federal partners including the CDC as they monitor the rapidly evolving situation locally and nationwide. At this time, there are no other persons in Oklahoma who meet the established criteria for testing.
OSDH Commissioner of Health Gary Cox said the risk to the general public is low, but OSDH will continue to be vigilant and continue planning and communicating with all local, state and federal partners as the investigation of this worldwide event continues.
“We appreciate the work of the OSDH Acute Disease Service and the CDC for working quickly to confirm there are no cases of the Novel Coronavirus in our state,” said Cox. “The public should be assured that OSDH will continue monitoring and engaging the multidisciplinary coordinated response team which is formulating response plans as the situation evolves and stands ready to protect Oklahomans.”
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some can cause respiratory illness in people. Transmission is likely occurring via respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing around close contacts. Common symptoms of illness will include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The primary factor of concern is travel history to the affected area or being in close contact with a laboratory-confirmed patient or close contact with someone who is under investigation for the virus while that person was ill.
Anyone who may have travelled to China in the last 14 days and is experiencing fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, should report their recent travel and symptoms to a health care provider before seeking treatment so that proper evaluation and infection control measures can be put in place. In the event of more suspected cases in Oklahoma, public health officials will work collectively with county health departments, health care providers and hospitals to arrange for testing with the CDC.
The CDC advises the public to avoid all non-essential travel to China; and recommends people who must travel to China practice health precautions like avoiding contact with people who are sick and practicing good hand hygiene.
Health care providers are urged to obtain a detailed travel history for patients being evaluated with fever and symptoms of acute respiratory illness such as cough and shortness of breath. There is no vaccine or specific treatment. Those with the virus are being offered supportive care. More cases are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States.
While risk of contracting coronavius is low, by contrast, the flu virus continues to be active this time of year. As a reminder, the best protection against the flu is to get a flu shot. Prevention tips for the coronavirus are similar to those of other respiratory illnesses.
In addition to getting a flu shot, public health officials recommend the following prevention tips:
* Frequent hand washing using soap and water, or alcohol-based products such as hand gels when hands are not visibly soiled.
* Make respiratory hygiene a habit, using tissues to cover coughs and sneezes, then disposing of them and washing hands at once. When tissues are not readily available, cough into your sleeve, never your hands.
* Stay home from work, school and other public places, except to get medical care or other necessities, until you have gone at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.