SOMERVILLE, NJ - The Somerset County Department of Health is continuing to keep residents informed about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and about ongoing planning to protect communities in Somerset County.

While widespread media coverage can make this situation seem alarming, it is important to note that as of Monday, Feb. 24, there have been no coronavirus (COVID-19) cases reported in Somerset County or New Jersey. To date, a total of 53 cases have been reported in the United States, a number that includes several US citizens who were passengers on the quarantined Pacific Princess cruise ship docked in Japan, but who have since returned home.  

Worldwide, there are 79,774 cases reported; 2,630 have died as a result of contracting the coronavirus. Cases have been reported in 37 countries. The most are in China, 77,345; South Korea, 833; the Diamond Princess, 691; Italy, 229 and Japan, 159, according to the website worldometer.info, which has a comprehensive page dedicated to the latest news and statistics relating to the outbreak.

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World financial markets also responded to the crisis Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping over 1,000 points, more than 3 percent of its overall value; broader markets also declined.

When it comes to safeguarding residents, the priority of the SCDOH is to protect and inform the public by monitoring and identifying all communicable diseases in the community and to provide essential public health information to residents. To reduce the impact this virus may have on our communities, the SCDOH is working with its partners to prepare the public health workforce to respond to local cases and the possibility this outbreak could become a pandemic. 

Since the situation is evolving, it is important to stay up to date by following trusted sources of information such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov, the World Health Organization at www.who.int, 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.

This new virus represents a tremendous public health threat that the SCDOH will continue to monitor for any cases of the virus in our towns.  As always, the SCDOH public health experts strive to make the best recommendations based on the most up-to-date data, and our guidance will change as we learn more about this virus.  When that happens, the SCDOH will share it with the public.    

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of the 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 have developed symptoms, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible, and tell them about your symptoms and your exposure to a patient with the coronavirus (COVID-19). Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, nor is there a medicine to treat it specifically. 

Simple daily health precautions can prevent the spread of the 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 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.

For the most up-to-date and credible information, visit the Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov, the World Health Organization at www.who.int 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.