SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—The World Health Organization on Thursday declared the spread of coronavirus a global health emergency, saying that its spread can still be halted if all countries take strong countermeasures.
“…all countries should be prepared for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of [coronavirus] infection, and to share full data with WHO,” the Geneva-based organization stated in a press release.
Santa Cruz County has so far avoided any cases of the coronavirus that has sickened thousands of people worldwide.
Still, despite the risk here being considered low by public health officials, Santa Cruz County Health Officer Gail Newell on Wednesday said her office is watching the spread of the disease.
“We are monitoring the situation closely to protect the health of Santa Cruz County residents and limit the spread of this virus,” she said. “The potential for a disease outbreak is always a public health concern. We are working with health care providers and community partners to review emergency procedures and we are prepared to take action should someone in our county becomes ill with this new virus.”
According to Johns Hopkins University, there were 4,474 cases worldwide as of Jan. 2, of which 4,409 were in China.
As of Jan. 26, five cases were confirmed in the United States in four states – Arizona, California, Illinois and Washington. Two of those cases have been identified in California. All those infected have traveled from Wuhan, China, where the virus is believed to have originated.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals and humans. This newly discovered coronavirus – a strain called 2019-nCov – has not been previously detected in animals or humans. The source is not yet known.
Coronaviruses cause mild-to-moderate respiratory illness. Symptoms are very similar to the flu, including runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, and shortness of breath. Older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease.
Anyone who has recently traveled from China, or came in close contact with someone who traveled from China, and develops a fever and lower respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or shortness of breath within 14 days after leaving the area, should first call their doctor or health care provider and share travel history and symptoms before visiting the clinic or emergency room.
For updates visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. To see the WHO press release, visit bit.ly/2OdHX9x