CAMDEN, NJ — As of Thursday, coronavirus has claimed at least 170 lives and spread to more than 7,700 worldwide.
Although tests this week for a potential case in New Jersey came back negative, Cooper University Health Care told TAPinto Camden that protocols are in place to circumvent potential cases.
“At this point, we’ve shared standard education and information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),” said Wendy Marano, Public Relations Manager for Cooper University Health Care.
“As an academic tertiary care hospital, we already have policies and procedures in place to deal with all types of communicable illnesses, which also include screening questions at ambulatory offices and other points of entry for patients who may have traveled out of country and/or presenting with flu-like illnesses,” she added.
Said screening questions, Marano explained, are asked of all patients at every point of entry, triage, as well as at every patient encounter.
The spread of the deadly virus also prompted NJ Gov. Phil Murphy to detail the state’s preparations in a press conference on Wednesday.
“As governor, I am above all charged with protecting the health and safety of our residents,” said Murphy. “New Jersey is an international crossroads, home to global businesses and research and educational institutions, and with proximity to numerous international airports and other points of entry. Together, we are collaborating with our federal partners, state authorities, and local health officials to ensure that we have strong preparedness protocols in place to protect all New Jerseyans.”
Preparations include a 24-hour hotline, at 1-800-222-1222, which is set up for the public to ask questions about the virus, also known as “2019-nCoV.”
The line is operated by the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System and is staffed with trained healthcare professionals — able to accommodate callers in multiple languages including Spanish.
“The symptoms of coronavirus are very similar to the flu that we see this time of year. Patients will typically complain of troubled breathing, a dry cough, they also will have body aches,” Kathie Prihoda, a clinical assistant professor of nursing at Rutgers-Camden, said in an email. ““The risk of developing coronavirus remains low in New Jersey, but we do need to be aware of some risks, particularly for those who have traveled outside the country and returned. The risk increases with age and comorbidities such as having an underlying cardiovascular disorder, asthma, or respiratory disorders."
Another case is reportedly being investigated in Philadelphia.
The CDC said on its website that the risk to the “American public is believed to be low at this time.”
It shared the following recommendations:
For everyone: It’s currently flu and respiratory disease season and CDC recommends getting vaccinated, taking everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals if prescribed.
For healthcare professionals:
Be on the look-out for people with travel history to China and fever and respiratory symptoms.
If you are a healthcare professional caring a 2109-nCoV patient, please take care of yourself and follow recommended infection control procedures.
For people who may have 2019-nCoV infection: Please follow CDC guidance on how to reduce the risk of spreading your illness to others.
For travelers: Stay up to date with CDC’s travel health notices related to this outbreak.
Debra Chew, a former epidemic intelligence officer for the CDC, an assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and the medical director for infection prevention and control at University Hospital in Newark, also recently discussed this emerging public health concern.