SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Department of Health officials said Wednesday they are “actively preparing a response” to the coronavirus outbreak in China.
“The UDOH and Utah’s local health departments are working closely with healthcare professionals, public health partners, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prepare for the possibility of cases in Utah,” the department said in a news release.
The health department said it has investigated potential cases of novel coronavirus in Utah, but no cases have been confirmed. UDOH also said the public will be notified if or when cases are confirmed.
“None of them been confirmed positive,” UDOH state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said at a press conference Wednesday, according to the Deseret News. “While this situation poses a very serious public health threat, the risk to Utahns is low at this time.”
The health department did not release the number of people it has tested for novel coronavirus, but there have been “a lot of suspected persons,” according to Dunn.
As of Wednesday afternoon, UDOH said there's no evidence that coronavirus is currently spreading from person-to-person in the United States.
The virus (2019-nCoV) is a respiratory infection that began in Wuhan, China, and has spread across the country, currently affecting nearly 6,000 individuals. Dozens of other cases have been confirmed outside of mainland China, including in the United States. Five cases have been confirmed in four U.S. states — Arizona, California, Illinois and Washington, UDOH said.
“The UDOH is providing information to local health departments and healthcare providers across the state on how to safely and effectively evaluate ill people who have been to China,” Dunn said in the news release. “UDOH will continue to monitor the situation, provide guidance and investigation support so partners across Utah can safely identify and respond to potential cases.”
More information on coronavirus can be found online at health.utah.gov/coronavirus.
The health department listed a few suggestions to “help public health respond to this emerging public health threat”:
- Avoid non-essential travel to China.
- Avoid travel while sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your 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.
- Older travelers and those with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss any travel with their healthcare provider.
- If you traveled to China, especially Wuhan or the Hubei Province, and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing: 1.) Seek medical care immediately. Call ahead before going to see a doctor or emergency room and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. 2.) Avoid contact with others.
Contributing: Wendy Leonard, Deseret News