NEWARK, NJ — Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Health Department and Wellness Director Dr. Mark Wade are urging residents with questions about the coronavirus to call the State of New Jersey’s hotline at 1(800) 222-1222.

The hotline is home of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System, and is staffed 24 hours a day by state health workers. The state website can be found here, which also contains information about the virus from the CDC.

In response to several flights from China being routed to Newark’s Liberty International Airport, Gov. Phil Murphy created a Coronavirus Task Force on Feb. 3 to coordinate all local efforts to appropriately prepare for and respond to the virus.

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According to the City of Newark, there are no reported cases of the coronavirus in the city as of Feb. 4. According to state officials, there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New Jersey as of Feb. 3.

According to the CDC, there have been thousands of confirmed cases in China, with more cases in other countries, including the United States.

"Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread," the CDC website states. "However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring."

According to the CDC, the virus is spread person-to-person through respiratory droplets, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

“With the outbreak and rapid spread of coronavirus around the world, it is critical that New Jersey has strong preparedness protocols in place,” Murphy said. “By establishing the Coronavirus Task Force, we are bringing together experts across state agencies, health officials, and federal partners to ensure that we are working collaboratively to protect the health and safety of all New Jerseyans.”

The Murphy administration also created a webpage (https://nj.gov/health/cd/topics/ncov.shtml) which includes travel updates and guidance sent to health care providers and health partners.

“Outbreaks like this – when a new virus is emerging to infect people – are always concerning,” said Judith M. Persichilli, New Jersey Department of Health commissioner. “The situation poses a serious public health threat, but the risk to New Jersey residents remains low and our level of preparedness is high. “

Persichilli said the Department of Health has been working on the effort for the past two weeks, holding daily meetings and a series of teleconferences to update stakeholders. 

“Everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat by taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs,” Persichilli said. “Wash hands frequently and stay home when you are sick.”

“We are working closely with the Department of Homeland Security, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Transportation, and the State concerning the new coronavirus,” Baraka said. “There will be a screening process at the airport as the flights land and follow-up measures as needed. Please rest assured that precautions are being taken to limit any exposure and my job to inform our community is important to me.”

Baraka and Wade have set up protocols consistent with national standards set by the CDC to deal with any cases of the virus in the city, should they occur.

“There is no cause for alarm,” Baraka said. “The city and our medical community is well-prepared, in the off-chance we have residents that are affected.”