Update on coronavirus case in Snohomish county

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Standard advice from the Dept of Health:
Wash your hands to prevent disease

On Tuesday, the Washington Department of Health confirmed the first case in the U.S. of a new novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV) in Snohomish County. 

The virus emerged in Wuhan, China in December and a number of countries, including the United States, are actively screening incoming travelers at airports that receive direct flights from Wuhan.

The patient, a man in his 30s, arrived in Snohomish County on January 15 after traveling from Wuhan City, China, where an outbreak of 2019-nCoV has been underway since December 2019. As of the morning of January 21, there were 300 cases worldwide but that number is likely to grow.

The Washington patient developed symptoms and was seen at a clinic in Snohomish County. Specimens were collected and sent to the CDC for testing. The patient was transferred to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

The Washington state Department of Health (DOH) and Snohomish Health District have been working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on interviewing the patient and beginning a contact investigation. This includes establishing a detailed travel history with the patient and identifying close contacts who may have experienced some level of exposure.

Health officials are actively monitoring these contacts, which means a public health worker will call each person daily to check for symptoms like fever or respiratory issues. Should one of these close contacts develop symptoms, they will be instructed to immediately contact the public health worker, who will help arrange a medical evaluation.

“As of now, we have identified at least 16 close contacts. Local public health staff started reaching out to them yesterday and continue to do so today,” said Snohomish County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters.

“The risk to the general public remains low. If there is a location where we are concerned about potential transmission, and where public health cannot contact those individuals directly, that information will be released quickly."

Coronaviruses are primarily spread through respiratory droplets, which means to become infected, people generally have to be within six feet of someone who is contagious and have droplets land on them. This is very different from airborne diseases like measles, so the public health response is very different.

Other coronaviruses are not contagious when the person does not have symptoms. The patient did not report any symptoms during his flight or at the airport. But out of an abundance of caution, the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine is working with the airlines and state health departments to ensure appropriate passenger notification.

If you have questions about what is happening in Washington state, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

The Snohomish Health District, with support from Medical Reserve Corps and Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, have also activated a call center. Snohomish County residents and visitors with questions can call 425-388-5088 from 9am to 6pm.


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