coronavirus

DuPage County Health Officials Contact Residents Possibly Exposed to Coronavirus

A Chicago woman who contracted coronavirus after a trip to Wuhan, China, was listed in good condition at a Hoffman Estates hospital last week

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DuPage County health officials are contacting residents who may have been exposed to an Illinois patient diagnosed with the coronavirus last week.

According to the DuPage County Health Department, officials are in the process of “identifying, assessing and monitoring people who have been exposed to prevent onward transmission.”

“The health department will be in direct contact with those people to monitor their health and, if necessary, to quickly and safely ensure they receive appropriate medical evaluation and care,” department spokesman Don Bolger said in a statement.

The department declined to give numbers on how many people were contacted but said members of the community "have had some sort of contact" with the Chicago woman diagnosed last Thursday.

"In a county of a million, it’s a very small amount of folks," said Executive Director Karen Ayala.

The woman who contracted coronavirus after a trip to Wuhan, China, was listed in good condition at a Hoffman Estates hospital.

The woman, who is in her 60s, returned from Wuhan, China - the epicenter of a recent outbreak - on Jan. 13 and started experiencing symptoms including a fever and shortness of breath in the following days.

The woman has had "very limited movement outside her home" since her return from China, public health officials said, and has not taken public transit or attended any large gatherings.

In DuPage County, officials said some residents "meet the definition of persons under investigation and who are currently being tested."

"It can be a point of concern but we are not considering it to be a point of panic or alarm," Ayala said, adding that the "general population is at low risk."

So far, the U.S. has five confirmed cases of the new virus, with each of the patients having traveled to the hardest-hit part of China before becoming ill. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday it was monitoring 110 potential cases in 26 states.

Health officials urge caution after a person in Indiana may have been infected with coronavirus. NBC 5's Patrick Fazio has the details on what is known so far.

The Indiana State Department of Health and the Centers of Disease and Control issued a statement Tuesday indicating that they have identified a person who could potentially be infected with the novel coronavirus.

"Final diagnosis awaits the results of laboratory tests to be performed by the CDC," the statement read. "Out of an abundance of caution, the individual has been placed in isolation and is currently under active medical supervision.”

The virus has already killed more than 130 people, sparking travel warnings and airport screenings around the world. China has confirmed more than 4,500 people with the respiratory illness, which in severe cases can cause pneumonia, with dozens more counted in other countries.

British Airways has halted all flights to China and American Airlines stopped flights out of Los Angeles to and from Shanghai and Beijing.

Still, health officials in the U.S. have stressed that “at this point Americans should not worry for their own safety.”

It remains unclear how lethal the virus is, or even whether it is as dangerous as the ordinary flu, which kills tens of thousands of people every year in the U.S. alone.

That was a point Ayala stressed Wednesday, noting that in DuPage County alone, there have been 32 cases of seasonal flu since September and six of those patients have died.

"That’s a real world concern and we need to be continuing to address that. At the same time we need to be paying attention to this issue," she said.

Officials urged any DuPage County residents who have concerns about exposure to contact their healthcare provider and call the DuPage County Health Department at (630) 682-7400.

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