The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today assured local residents that they are at very little risk of getting infected with the coronavirus that is expanding in China and spreading to other countries, including the U.S. The LLCHD encourages residents to stay informed by visiting the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov.
"The coronavirus outbreak is a very real public health threat, and public health officials at all levels are monitoring the rapidly changing situation," said Patricia Lopez, LLCHD Interim Health Director. "But at this time, the only local residents who should be concerned are those who have returned from China in the last 14 days or who live in the same household as someone who has returned from China in the last 14 days."
Lopez said those infected with the coronavirus would show symptoms from two to 14 days after infection. The average time is five to seven days. Those who have traveled to China or been in close contact with someone who has should seek immediate medical care if they begin to feel sick with fever or cough or have difficulty breathing. They should also contact the doctor or emergency room ahead of the visit to tell them about their recent travel and symptoms.
Travel to China is being discouraged at this time. Lopez said measures are being taken to prevent the virus from becoming widespread in the U.S. including airport screening and monitoring those at risk. Health care providers and first responders are receiving guidance in risk assessment, managing those with known or potential risk of exposure, and the diagnosis and identification of new cases.
The CDC does not recommend the use of facemasks by the general public to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and officials say there is no reason to assume those of Asian descent are more likely to have the virus.
Lopez reminded residents that their greatest immediate health risk is influenza, and it is not too late to get a flu shot. Six flu-associated deaths have been identified in Lancaster County so far this flu season.
The LLCHD recommends the general public take the following steps to reduce the spread of the flu and other respiratory viruses: