Tri-County Health closely watching novel coronavirus

Department works with partners to monitor travelers who have been to China


Tri-County Health Department is working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to monitor residents with recent travel to China for 2019 novel coronavirus infection as they return Colorado.

While the risk to the general public is low and Colorado has no confirmed cases, the department is monitoring some travelers who recently returned from mainland China as a precautionary measure to be sure they are not experiencing symptoms of 2019-nCoV, according to a news release.

Plans are also set up for people to seek medical care in case illness develops, and steps to prevent spread of the virus are in place.

“We know there is heightened concern about the 2019 novel coronavirus as it continues to spread in China,” John M. Douglas Jr., MD, executive director of Tri-County Health Department, said in a news release. “However, it is important to remember that the risk of getting infected with this virus is low in the United States because we have so few cases. The highest risk for being exposed are to people who recently traveled from China or are in close contact with someone diagnosed with 2019 novel coronavirus.”

Using direction from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state health department, Tri-County Health's approach is to assess travelers in Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties who are returning from China to determine their exposure risk, how to monitor for symptoms, and whether individuals should restrict their movement or activities for up to two weeks after departing China.

The CDC has put into place at the federal level separate protocols to manage travelers from China who are already experiencing symptoms of 2019-nCoV; these ill individuals are clinically evaluated and kept in isolation at 11 airports around the United States that are accepting flights from China. Denver is not one of those airports.

Many kinds of coronaviruses are circulating in Colorado that cause respiratory illness like the common cold. These viruses are different from 2019-nCoV and different from the flu. People are urged to protect themselves from any of the respiratory infections that occur so commonly this time of year by practicing everyday actions:

• Clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.

• Cough or sneeze into your arm or a tissue, then clean your hands.

• Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

• Get a flu shot if you haven't gotten one this year.

Symptoms of 2019-nCoV infection include fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Symptoms usually appear within 14 days after exposure. People who have recently traveled to China and have symptoms should contact a healthcare provider before going to a clinic or emergency room in-person so proper precautions can be taken.


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