Usually, State of North Carolina officials make announcements when something happens, but in this case, on Wednesday, Jan. 29, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announced that something hadn’t happened.
Namely, the department informed the public that all suspected cases of the new deadly coronavirus in North Carolina have been false alarms.
Still, the concerns are high about the virus that originated in Wuhan, China and is spreading worldwide. The Jan. 29 message to the public stated that the department is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local health departments and health care providers to closely monitor the coronavirus – officially known as “2019-nCoV.”
According to state health officials, the first case of the virus in the United States was announced on Tuesday, Jan. 21, in Washington state. They also noted that, to date, there are five confirmed cases in the US but there are ongoing investigations by the CDC into other possible cases.
Then came the somewhat reassuring part of the message to the public that so far, there are no confirmed coronavirus cases in North Carolina. The press release notes that the “risk to the general public in North Carolina is considered low at this time.”
State health officials also announced that guidance for health professionals and the general public is now available on the NC Division of Public Health’s website at https://www.ncdhhs.gov. The link to the information is a giant one at the top of the page. People who have questions or concerns related to the new virus can also call 866-462-3821 for more information.
NC Health Director and DHHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson stated Wednesday that North Carolina residents who suffer symptoms almost certainly don’t have the new virus.
“We continue to monitor the spread of this novel coronavirus very closely,” Tilson stated. “While people should take this new virus seriously, at this time of year, respiratory illnesses in people in North Carolina are most likely due to infection with influenza or viruses that cause the common cold.”
State officials said that people should merely continue to take the most effective steps for preventing the spread of regular respiratory infections such as the flu:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid exposure to others who are sick.
- Stay home when you are ill.