State health department says the risk to the general public is low for novel coronavirus in Colorado

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    By Jessica Bralish
    Special to The SUN
    State public health officials from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) say the risk to the general public is low for novel coronavirus in Colorado.
    At the same time, state officials continue to investigate possible cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in patients with respiratory symptoms and travel history to China. The department is preparing for a swift response if the virus is found in the state. To date, Colorado has no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.
    The CDC has investigated three Colorado cases so far, all with travel history to China. All of those patients have tested negative.
    “At this time of year, there are many causes of respiratory illness in Colorado and around the globe,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state communicable disease epidemiologist, CDPHE. “It’s understandable that people may be worried about the appearance of a new virus, but the health risk to the general public in Colorado remains low.”
    State health officials went on to say that it’s normal in situations like this to have cases under investigation because health care providers are being extra cautious looking for symptoms and members of the public have a heightened awareness of the situation.
    “This heightened level of caution and awareness among the health care community and the general public is what we want,” said Tony Cappello, Ph.D., division director, Disease Control and Public Health Response, CDPHE.
    Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that have been associated with respiratory illness such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. These viruses spread through coughing or sneezing, much like the flu.
    Symptoms of coronavirus infection may include fever, cough and/or shortness of breath and usually appear within two to 14 days. Anyone experiencing these symptoms, who also has a recent history of travel to China, especially Wuhan City, should first call a health care provider, urgent care or hospital for instructions before going to a clinic or emergency room.
    People who are worried about this, or any respiratory virus, can protect themselves by practicing everyday actions:
    • Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
    • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing.
    • Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
    • Stay home if you are sick.
    To learn more about the 2019 novel coronavirus, including symptoms and prevention, visit the department’s 2019-nCoV Web page, which also includes a link to outbreak data from the CDC. People who have general questions about 2019-nCoV can call CO-Help at (303) 389-1687 or (877) 462-2911, or by email at COHELP@RMPDC.org, for answers in English and Spanish.