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Region’s coronavirus scare put to rest for now, but concerns remain as more travelers return from China

NKyTribune staff

With the announcement this week that two Miami University students tested negative for the coronavirus, the immediate threat in the region has been minimized.

There continue to be concerns, however, in other parts of the country and around the world, especially in the province in China where this strain of the virus originated.

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The two Miami University students, who recently returned from China, had been isolated since Jan. 27, after experiencing respiratory symptoms.  

“While we are pleased to announce these results are negative, we continue to remain vigilant,” Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said in a statement. “We are working closely with our local health departments and health care providers and will keep you apprised of this ever-changing situation.”

There are no suspected cases of coronavirus in Kentucky at this time.

Monday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency for the entire United States to aid the nation’s healthcare community in responding to 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

“While this virus poses a serious public health threat, the risk to the American public remains low at this time, and we are working to keep this risk low,” Secretary Azar said. “We are committed to protecting the health and safety of all Americans, and this public health emergency declaration is the latest in the series of steps the Trump Administration has taken to protect our country.”

The emergency declaration gives state, tribal, and local health departments more flexibility to request that HHS authorize them to temporarily reassign personnel to respond to 2019-nCoV if their salaries normally are funded in whole or in part by Public Health Service Act programs. These personnel could assist with public health information campaigns and other response activities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working closely with state health departments on disease surveillance, contact tracing, and providing interim guidance for clinicians on identifying and treating coronavirus infections.


HHS is working with the Department of State to assist in bringing home Americans who had been living in affected areas of mainland China.

HHS divisions also are collaborating with industry to identify and move forward with development of potential diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics to detect, prevent, and treat 2019-nCoV infections.

The vast majority of cases have been diagnosed in China, specifically in Wuhan.

China completed the construction Thursday of a second hospital built in Wuhan, in just eight days, to isolate and treat patients of the coronavirus.

Most recent reports indicate the virus has killed more than 560 people since emerging in a local market. The number of confirmed cases has risen to more than 28,000.

Outside mainland China, more than 250 cases have been confirmed.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases provided an update in a teleconference Wednesday.

Messonnier said the total number of confirmed positives in the United States remains at 11.

“Right now, 206 persons under investigation or PUIs (persons under investigation) have tested negative for infection with this Novel virus,” Messonnier said. “We currently have testing pending on 76 PUIs.  Some of those PUIs that are pending include samples in transit.”


Almost all the confirmed cases with the Novel Coronavirus are in China and the majority of those are in Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located, but there have been more than 200 infections detected in 28 locations outside of China, including the United States. There have also been two confirmed cases of person-to-person transmission of the virus in the United States.

There are also four more planes carrying passengers from Wuhan, China back to the United States.

“The plan is for the planes to arrive at the following locations in three states, Travis Air Force Base in Sacramento, California, marine corps air station Miramar in San Diego, California, Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas and Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska,” Messonnier said. “CDC staff are there meeting the planes and assessing the health of each passenger.  The passengers will be screened, monitored and evaluated by medical and public health personnel including before takeoff and during the flight.”

Just as with the plane that arrived at March Air Reserve Base in California last week, these passengers will be issued quarantine orders upon arrival at their designated locations.  This legal order is intended to protect the travelers, their families and their communities.

“The quarantine period will begin the day the flight leaves Wuhan and will continue for 14 days,” Messonnier said. “We do not believe these people pose a threat to the communities where they are being housed. We expect confirmed infections among these and other returning travelers from Hubei province.”

Messonnier added that the measures being taken may not catch every traveler returning with Novel Coronavirus given the nature of this virus and how it is spreading.

“If we can catch the majority of them, that will slow the entry of this virus into the United States,” Messonnier said.

Also this week, a CDC-developed laboratory test kit to detect 2019-nCoV began shipping to select qualified U.S. and international laboratories. Distribution of the tests will help improve the global capacity to detect and respond to the virus.

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