As U.S. officials declare a public health emergency for novel coronavirus, two “possible” cases of novel coronavirus were reported in Dallas Friday.
Trusted Medical Centers released a statement late Friday night that the patient that was at medical facility in Mansfield tested "did in fact test positive for one for the strains for the strains included in the test, we have spoken to Dr. Wendy Chung with Dallas County Health and Human Services, who states the positive results essentially eliminate their chances of having the 2019-nCoV strain. Dr. Chung has stated no further testing for 2019-nCoV is needed at this time and the public is not at any heightened risk."
The first, a possible case in a patient at Parkland Hospital was reported by NBCDFW’s news partners at The Dallas Morning News, which cited Dallas Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune as having confirmed the “possible” case.
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In a carefully worded statement, Parkland partially addressed the report, saying, “the media reports that Parkland has a patient who has tested positive for coronavirus is incorrect.”
When NBC 5 asked if Parkland had a patient showing signs of the virus that they had tested and were monitoring, they replied with the same statement.
A few miles away in Uptown Dallas, a second possible case of novel coronavirus was reported by “Trusted ER,” who said the patient had recently traveled to China and was experiencing symptoms associated with coronavirus.
“Our clinical team immediately reported this case to the CDC,” Trusted ER said in a statement. “Although the CDC has labeled this case as “low risk,” Trusted Medical is taking every precaution to ensure we are proactively taking measures to mitigate any possible risk to the community, while also doing what is in the best interest of the patient,” it continued.
According to Trusted ER, that patient has been moved to a facility in Mansfield and is being housed in a negative pressure room to reduce the risk of possible transmission, with tests pending.
“The patient had some symptoms fever, flu kind of symptoms. But the uncertain part was that she had come from China recently,” said Trusted ER Physician, Dr. Alex Farahmand.
Farahmand says the patient was isolated while calls were made to the CDC.
“Based on this and the overall picture, they give us an idea of what they consider high, low, medium risk. And according to the CDC she was a low risk patient,” said Farahmand.
Dallas County Health and Human Services posted on social media that there have been no positive tests in Dallas County.
US Declares Public Health Emergency
Friday afternoon, officials with President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force said they were declaring a public health emergency in the U.S. effective at 4 p.m. CT Sunday.
Officials said as of Friday there were 9,700 cases of novel coronavirus in China and that 200 people had died after becoming infected. There were 132 confirmed cases of the virus in 23 other countries, including 12 cases in six countries where the patient had not recently traveled to China.
Officials said there were six cases confirmed in the United States and that another 191 individuals were being tested and monitored for infection.
While the risk of infection in China is serious, the risk to the American public is low. However, because the virus poses a significant global threat, a public health emergency will go into effect across the United States at 4 p.m. Sunday.
With the public health emergency comes significant restrictions who can enter the country from China. Any American citizen returning to the U.S. from Hubei province, China will be automatically subjected to a 14-day mandatory quarantine. Foreign nationals, other than immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, will be denied entry.
Beginning Sunday, the U.S. will also begin funneling all flights to the U.S. from China to seven major airports where passengers can be screened for illness. Most major airlines announced Friday morning that they were temporarily suspending all flights to and from China.
Dallas County Health and Human Services is encouraging people to use basic personal hygiene practices -- like washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home while sick -- to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the flu and other communicable diseases.
"We remain in the middle of flu season, which poses an immediate risk to our residents," officials said.
Tips for Avoiding the Flu
- Get a flu vaccine every season, especially people at high risk
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home when you are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- If you're experiencing flu symptoms, visit your doctor and begin taking antiviral medications to help you recover more quickly