CAMDEN, NJ — As of Thursday evening, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Jersey.
Still, coronavirus — also being referred to as COVID-19 — has claimed over 2,000 lives, infected more than 82,000 people and spread to 47 countries on all continents except Antarctica.
The Camden County Department of Health said Thursday that the public should begin preparing contingency plans for work and school in the event of an outbreak in Camden — stressing that the risk of an outbreak in NJ remains low.
“We are working closely with our partners at the state and federal levels to monitor any new developments, and so that we may closely monitor any individuals living in Camden County who are at risk of having contracted the illness,” said Camden County Health Officer Dr. Paschal Nwako. “It bears repeating, there are currently no known cases of coronavirus in New Jersey and the risk to our residents is currently low. Still, rest assured that our team is taking the necessary steps to prepare for the event that a broader outbreak occurs.”
Health department officials say they are closely monitoring reports and guidance from both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH).
Experts believe the novel coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan, China, last December. The first confirmed case appeared in North California on Thursday.
Other Camden County departments and agencies are also in the process of updating operations would an outbreak occur in order to provide government services.
“Residents should know that the government of Camden County is ready in the event of any emergency, including a potential viral outbreak,” said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli. “Plans are in place to ensure that we are always prepared to respond to the needs of our citizens whether in the event of a natural disaster, severe storms, or a public health crisis.”
Anyone experiencing symptoms following potential exposure is recommended to avoid contact with others, not travel, and seek medical attention as soon as possible — by calling their healthcare provider and informing them of recent travel, symptoms, and concerns.
“The risk posed by the coronavirus in our community remains low, but now is the time for residents to begin mentally preparing themselves for the what an outbreak might look like and how the response may affect their daily life,” said Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez, liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services. “The most important thing is to practice good hygiene and to develop a plan so that you are prepared in the event of the virus spreading.”
Anyone with questions about the coronavirus, symptoms, or their risk of exposure, can call a free 24-hour public hotline at 1-800-222-1222 where trained professionals are standing by to answer questions.
Camden residents can also still get an influenza vaccination at a Regional Health Center located at the Board of Social Services Building on 600 Market Street, Basement B-55. To reach out to the center call (856) 756-2266.
The Camden County Health Department is recommending the following common hygiene practices:
Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing
Washing your hands properly and often with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Avoid close contact with sick people
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible
Stay home from work or school when you are sick
The county said, families, educators, and employers, can take the following steps in the event of an outbreak in NJ:
Speaking with your employer about options to work from home or telecommute to work in the event of an outbreak.
Maintaining a three-month supply of medication for individuals who suffer from chronic illness.
Adding nonperishable items to your pantry, including go-to sickbed foods such as chicken broth, crackers, hydrating drinks, etc…(there is no need to stockpile food or water, however).