Both the city and state outlined their preparedness after the first two cases of Novel Coronavirus were confirmed in the United States, one in Washington state and the other in Chicago. The virus, initially identified in China, has now spread to 16 countries with 25 deaths, all in China.
The New York State Department of Health currently has four people under investigation for novel coronavirus who are under isolation as their cases are being tested at the Center for Disease Control. While the risk level in New York is currently low, Governor Andrew 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,” Cuomo said. “We are undertaking a wide-ranging 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 the common cold, if you are concerned you might be ill, please follow our guidance to protect yourself and others.”
Last week, the Department of Health 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 novel coronavirus, had a travel history to Wuha, China, or had come in contact with an individual who was under investigation for novel coronavirus.
“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,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said.”People who have traveled abroad recently and have symptoms that mimic the flu should see their doctor.”
In Queens, the Centers for Disease Control entry screening program began at JFK International Airport for passengers arriving from Wuhan but so far no passenger has required further evaluation.
“With the best emergency response teams in the nation, New York City stands ready to respond to any potential cases of coronavirus,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We will remain vigilant and ensure New Yorkers have the facts they need to stay safe.”
Symptoms of the novel coronavirus may include a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever and a general feeling of being unwell.
“We take this rapidly changing situation seriously, and we are monitoring world events closely,” NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said. “New Yorkers should know the risk to residents of the city is low and that public health and emergency teams are ready to act swiftly if circumstances change. We urge New Yorkers who have recently traveled to the Wuhan area to conduct their health care providers if they have fever, cough or shortness of breath.”
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro added that his department’s highly-trained Paramedics and EMTs are prepared to respond to any potential calls related to novel coronavirus.
“The Department will continue to monitor this situation and work closely with the Health Department and every city agency to ensure the safety of New Yorkers,” Nigro said.