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Since announcing a case of 2019 novel coron­avirus in Snohomish County, Wash., the state Depart­ment of Health (DOH) and Snohomish Health District have been working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Preven­tion (CDC) on inter­viewing the patient and begin­ning a contact inves­ti­ga­tion. This includes estab­lishing a detailed travel history with the patient and identi­fying close contacts who may have experi­enced some level of exposure.

Health officials are actively monitoring these contacts, which means a public health worker will call each person daily to check for symptoms like fever or respi­ra­tory issues. Should one of these close contacts develop symptoms, they will be instructed to immedi­ately contact the public health worker, who will help arrange a medical evaluation.

As of now, we have identi­fied at least 16 close contacts. Local public health staff started reaching out to them yesterday and continue to do so today,” said Snohomish County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters. The risk to the general public remains low. If there is a location where we are concerned about poten­tial trans­mis­sion, and where public health cannot contact those individ­uals directly, that infor­ma­tion will be released quickly.”

Coron­aviruses are primarily spread through respi­ra­tory droplets, which means to become infected, people gener­ally have to be within six feet of someone who is conta­gious and have droplets land on them. This is very different from airborne diseases like measles, so the public health response is very different.

As we learn more about 2019 novel coron­avirus, we will better under­stand when people become conta­gious, but other coron­aviruses are not conta­gious when the person does not have symptoms. The patient did not report any symptoms during his flight or at the airport. But out of an abundance of caution, the CDC’s Division of Global Migra­tion and Quaran­tine is working with the airlines and state health depart­ments to ensure appro­priate passenger notification.

This may be a novel virus, but it is not a novel inves­ti­ga­tion,” said Secre­tary John Wiesman. Public health staff partic­i­pate in these types of inves­ti­ga­tions all the time and are well trained to have these conversations.”

Advice to the general public is the same as every cold and flu season. Wash your hands regularly and if you’re sneezing and coughing, stay home. If you’ve traveled from Wuhan City, China into the U.S. and you have symptoms, seek advice from your health care provider. If you don’t have a health provider, reach out to your health depart­ment. At this time people should go about their usual routines and activities.

DOH has estab­lished a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington state, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, please call 1 – 800-525‑0127 and press #.

The Snohomish Health District, with support from our Medical Reserve Corps and Snohomish County Depart­ment of Emergency Manage­ment, have also activated a call center. Snohomish County residents and visitors with questions can call 425 – 388-5088 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting today. Call volumes will be monitored to deter­mine when that call center will be de-activated.

The DOH has estab­lished a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington state, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, please call the DOH at 1 – 800-525‑0127 and press #. Additional infor­ma­tion is also avail­able on the website.

More infor­ma­tion on 2019 novel coron­avirus is avail­able from: