Risk for novel coronavirus remains low for general public in U.S., local officials say

The State Department is now telling Americans to reconsider all travel to China, due to the coronavirus and top US health officials are on alert for potential cases here.

Although Wuhan is the outbreak's epicenter, US officials say "some areas outside Wuhan have increased risk."

There are now five confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, each stemming from recent travel to Wuhan, China which is the epicenter of the outbreak.

The CDC reports at least another 110 people are under investigation. One is a local foreign exchange student at Penn Charter who traveled through Wuhan.

Spokesperson for the Philadelphia Health Department James Garrow says the student is in isolation at the host family home and lab samples have been sent to the state for testing.

"As of right now, the student is feeling better and doing well, so we're hopeful this is just one of many respiratory viruses going around this time of year," Garrow said.

Test results are expected within a few days. All potential contacts are being monitored but no one else related to this case is in isolation.

Local health officials also stressing, the overall risk of the new coronavirus for the general public is very low.
"If you haven't been to China or had contact with someone recently in China, your risk is basically zero."

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention echoed that message today, saying the new virus is not spreading in the US at this time.

"For that reason, we continue to believe the health risk to the general public is low at this time," said Dr. Nancy Messonier.

She also said heightened screening at the five U.S. airports help to detect any potential cases and also educate travelers on what to do if they come down with symptoms.

Due to the high amount of travel, more cases are expected in the U.S. The goal is to prevent further spread of the virus.

Overall in the Philadelphia area, the bigger risk is the flu. People forget, but thousands of people die every year from the flu virus.

Health officials reminding everyone it's not too late to get a flu shot and to practice good health hygiene, which includes washing your hands frequently, covering your cough and staying away from others if you are sick.
Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.