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The original item was published from 1/27/2020 10:52:00 AM to 1/27/2020 3:03:18 PM.

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Health Department - News

Posted on: January 23, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Coronavirus Information

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UPDATED Jan 27, 2020 at 10:45 AM

Health officials are closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (termed “2019-nCoV”) that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and which continues to expand. As of Jan. 27, five cases have been confirmed in the United States. No cases have been confirmed in Michigan, but there are four suspect cases in the state, including three in Washtenaw County. Specimens from these local individuals are being tested at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Given the number of specimens being tested nationally, no specific turnaround time is available, but results are expected within several days. 

All cases being investigated in Michigan have presented with mild illness. All individuals are currently isolated, pending test results. In Washtenaw County, we are monitoring these individuals and any household contacts for fevers or additional symptoms twice per day.

Anyone who has traveled to China in the last 14 days and has symptoms of respiratory illness should seek medical care. Please contact your health care provider by phone before going to their office or to an urgent care or hospital. 

It is unclear how easily the virus is spreading between people at this time. Signs and symptoms of this illness include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. The most up-to-date information on the situation is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at

Guidance for Travelers

See for updates. If you traveled to China in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. 
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

About Coronaviruses

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people such as has been seen with MERS and SARS. When person-to-person spread has occurred with SARS and MERS, it is thought to have happened via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. Spread of SARS and MERS between people has generally occurred between close contacts. Past MERS and SARS outbreaks have been complex, requiring comprehensive public health response.

Preventing Illness

This situation may change quickly as we learn more about how easily this new virus does or doesn’t spread between people. As of Jan. 27, the Washtenaw County Health Department does not consider contact with someone who recently traveled to China or Wuhan but is not sick a risky or potential exposure. As a reminder, it’s flu season and good prevention strategies are recommended for everyone to help reduce the spread of germs: 

  • Wash hands well and often
  • Cover your cough
  • Stay away from others when sick 

Further Michigan information:

Further information from the CDC:

Washtenaw County Health Department
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