SOMERVILLE, NJ - County health officials say there have been no reports of the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Somerset County or New Jersey, but they continue to maintain their vigilance of the serious health threat which was first discovered in China and has since spread around the world, with the death toll surpassing 1,100, with 45,000 infected, according to the US Centers for Disease Control.

A total of 12 cases have been reported in the United States.  

“While the immediate risk to the general public is believed to be low, our county Health Department continues to be diligent by working closely with public health partners to monitor symptoms in people who have traveled to China and those who have had close contact with someone has the virus,” said Freeholder Brian G. Gallagher, public health and safety liaison.

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Over the past few weeks, the Health Department has taken a number of steps to protect the public, including:

- Contacting healthcare providers throughout the county to provide regular updates.

- Opening a dedicated health line for healthcare providers, first responders and school administrators.

- Providing resources, education and regular updates to public health partners.

- Reaching out to schools with information on current disease guidelines, hand hygiene and healthy habits.

- Establishing a novel coronavirus webpage on the county’s website. It can be found at http://bit.ly/SCDOHcorona.

The New Jersey Department of Health is also providing information to residents, and has set up a 24/7 public hotline with the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System at 1-800-222-1222.

Symptoms of coronavirus appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  For people who have traveled to China or have had close contact with someone infected with this new coronavirus and develop symptoms, contact your healthcare provider, and tell them about your symptoms and your exposure to a 2019-nCoV patient.

There are simple daily precautions that everyone should always take to prevent the spread of this coronavirus and other diseases:

- Wash hands frequently with soap and water, and for at least 20 seconds each time.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

- Avoid close contact with people who are ill.

- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

- Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

- Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.

- Stay home when you are sick.

The county Health Department’s priority is to protect and inform the public by monitoring and identifying all communicable disease in the community and by providing essential public health information to residents, according to Gallagher.

For the most up-to-date and credible information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov, the New Jersey Department of Health at www.nj.gov/health, and the Somerset County Department of Health at www.co.somerset.nj.us/health.