The COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus which is believed to have first emerged in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory illness such as the common cold, or more severe illness such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
On Feb. 27, the CDC confirmed the first known case of the coronavirus in the United States not to result from travel to an affected region or contact with another person already known to have contracted the infection. As of Feb. 26, there were 14 known cases of coronavirus inside the United States, 12 of which were travel-related, and two of which occurred via person-to-person spread. Additionally, 45 cases among persons repatriated to the United States have been confirmed, the vast majority of which are individuals who contracted the virus aboard the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship. Three others were repatriated from Wuhan, China.
According to the CDC, current understanding about how the coronavirus spreads is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses. The virus is though to spread mainly from person-to-person, but it may be possible that a person can contract the illness by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. It is important to reiterate that at this time, the CDC maintains that for the general American public, the immediate health risk from coronavirus is considered low.
The CDC has issued several travel alerts and warnings for locations where outbreaks have occurred. The CDC recommended that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to both China and South Korea. Older adults and those with chronic medical conditions have also been altered to consider postponing nonessential travel to Iran, Italy, and Japan.
If you are experiencing symptoms following possible exposure to COVID-19, seek medical care as soon as possible. Remember to call ahead and tell the healthcare provider’s office about your recent travel, symptoms, and concern. Please also avoid contact with others and do not travel.
Anyone with questions about the novel coronavirus, symptoms, or their risk of exposure, can call the free, 24-hour public hotline at 1-800-222-1222 where trained professionals are standing by to answer your questions.
“The risk posed by the coronavirus in our community remains low, but now is the time for residents to begin mentally preparing themselves for the what an outbreak might look like and how the response may affect their daily life,” said Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez, liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services. “The most important thing is to practice good hygiene and to develop a plan so that you are prepared in the event of the virus spreading.”
In contrast to the coronavirus, flu activity remains high in all New Jersey counties. Camden County residents can still receive the influenza vaccination at Camden County’s Regional Health Centers in Bellmawr and Camden City.
For additional information about where and how to receive the flu vaccine residents can contact the county Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-999-9045, or visit www.camdencounty.com, or contact their primary physician.