(WETM – TV) – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York State’s latest efforts to prepare and respond to the outbreak of a novel coronavirus in China, after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now confirms three cases in the United States.
While there have been no confirmed cases in New York State, as of today, the New York State Department of Health has sent seven total cases to CDC for testing. Three of those cases have been proven negative, while four results are still pending. Those four individuals remain in isolation as their cases are tested at CDC.
“While the experts still believe the risk of catching this novel coronavirus is currently low in New York, I want all New Yorkers to know we are prepared and continue to take all necessary steps to keep people informed and safe,” Governor Cuomo said. “I have directed the Department of Health and other state agencies to continue working closely with the CDC, the World Health Organization, our local and federal government partners, and New York’s healthcare providers to ensure we stay ahead of this situation.”
With travelers expected to begin returning to the US this week from Lunar New Year celebrations in China, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) has begun working with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to post multilingual signage about the virus at all four Port Authority international airports. DOH is also working with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to place informational signage on subways and busses.
Information about the novel coronavirus is available here.
On Friday, the State Department of Health held an informational webinar on the coronavirus with over 400 participants from New York’s colleges and universities, many of which have international students and faculty. DOH will circulate guidance this week on messaging to students about the virus, how to prevent it and how it spreads. This is in addition to a series of informational webinars DOH has already held for hospitals and local healthcare providers.
Last week the Department of Health issued guidance to healthcare providers, healthcare facilities, clinical laboratories and local health departments providing updated information about the outbreak, and ensuring proper protocols are in place if a patient is experiencing symptoms consistent with the novel coronavirus, had a travel history to Wuhan, China, where the novel coronavirus originated, or had come in contact with an individual who was under investigation for this novel coronavirus.
Last week’s health guidance coincided with the start of a CDC-led airport entry screening program at John F. Kennedy International Airport for passengers arriving from Wuhan, China. Chinese officials have since closed transport in and out of Wuhan and other cities in the province, including their international airports. DOH, Port Authority and the New York City Health Department will continue to work collaboratively with CDC as their travel screening process evolves. To date, no passenger has required further evaluation as a result of the CDC-led passenger screening program at JFK. To raise further awareness for all international travel, Governor Cuomo has directed the Port Authority to post informational signs at all four Port Authority international airports.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “We encourage all New Yorkers to take normal precautions against sickness, such as regular hand washing and avoiding close contact with people who are sick. We will continue to work with our partners at the CDC and are prepared to assist in any way necessary to ensure the health of New Yorkers.”
Symptoms of the novel coronavirus may include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
The CDC recommends that individuals avoid all nonessential travel to Wuhan, China, but has provided specific information for those who are still planning a trip to Wuhan and for individuals who have recently returned from that city and maybe experiencing the above symptoms.
While there is currently no vaccine for this novel coronavirus, everyday preventative actions can help stop the spread of this and other respiratory viruses, including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Individuals who are experiencing symptoms and may have traveled to areas of concern, or have been in contact with somebody who has traveled to these areas, should call ahead to their healthcare provider before presenting for treatment.