Kent County resident being tested for coronavirus

DOVER — After a Kent County resident presented their health symptoms and travel history to medical personnel, the state Division of Public Health is investigating it as a potential case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

Delaware officials reviewed the patient’s information with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and determined that testing should be performed. Results are expected in the coming days.

DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said in an emailed statement Wednesday that the patient remained hospitalized in isolation “out of an abundance of caution” in an undisclosed Delaware hospital and that protective precautions eliminated widespread risk to hospital staff and other patients.

The division issued guidelines to Emergency Medical Services responders regarding what to do if they are called to transport someone suspected to be infected with 2019-nCoV and staff is developing materials to educate the public.

“While the available information suggests a low immediate health risk for the general public, we consider any new infectious disease a serious concern and are working with health care providers to promptly identify and evaluate any suspected cases. It is important to recognize that the current investigation and response are dynamic, and frequently changing, and new information about the disease may impact the response. DPH will keep the public updated as the situation evolves. DPH has posted information about 2019-nCoV and our activities related to the outbreak on our website,” Dr. Rattay said.

National news outlets reported that five individuals in the United States had confirmed cases of the virus as of Wednesday afternoon.

With the risk based on exposure, Dr. Ratay said only those individuals who had traveled recently to China or contacted someone who did and is ill have an increased chance of getting sick.

“As you know, we are in the heart of flu and respiratory disease season, and with more than 2,000 cases statewide, most people are at greater risk of contracting seasonal influenza than coronavirus. For persons without an associated travel risk, it should be assumed that most respiratory illnesses are not 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Symptoms of 2019-nCoV are most similar to lower respiratory infections with patients having fever, cough, and shortness of breath,” she said.

“There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for 2019-nCoV infection. Many individuals infected with 2019-nCoV recover with rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking over-the-counter medications to help relieve symptoms.”

The state encouraged residents to take the same precautions against the new virus as they do for avoiding colds and flu:

• Stay home from work and school when sick

• Cover one’s mouth when coughing and

• Practice good hand-washing techniques.

The CDC this week recommended that Americans avoid all nonessential travel to China.

Dr. Ratay said, “Based on what has been learned from past outbreaks – including outbreaks of related coronaviruses – we know that finding cases quickly and responding to them effectively is key. That rapid response helps ensure that the ill person receives the care they need, and it lessens the chance of other people getting sick. Fortunately, Delaware has a strong disease surveillance system in place that includes partnerships with hospital and clinic systems as well as local health care providers. We are coordinating closely with the CDC.”