Phila. health dept. monitors new possible case of coronavirus

Health officials say an exchange student from China at Penn Charter School does not have the coronavirus.

Tests came back negative for the student, who fell ill late last week.

However, the Philadelphia Department of Health is investigating another possible case.

No details were released of the person involved, but the department did say it will provide updates each afternoon.

In the meantime, the federal health officials in the U-S are stepping up checks for the virus, which is still spreading rapidly in China.

While China tries to control the outbreak there, the U-S is evacuating about 200 consulate workers and their families from Wuhan.

They were screened leaving China and will be checked again when they land in Alaska and then in California.

Overall, the CDC has beefed up airport screenings, going from 5 airports to 20, focusing not just on travelers from Wuhan, but China as a whole.

So far, only 5 Americans have confirmed cases of the virus - all with direct travel ties to Wuhan.

Some colleges, like the University of Pennsylvania, are urging students studying in China to come home, or to reconsider future trips there.

Faculty and staff are getting the same advice.

New Jersey's health department has opened a hotline so the public can get information about the coronavirus.

1-800-222-1222 is intended to provide facts, to alleviate fears, and dispel rumors...

Federal officials doing the same today:

"Americans should know that this is a potentially very serious public health threat, but, at this point, Americans should not worry for their own safety," said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

China will now let international health experts, such as those from the CDC, assist in dealing with the outbreak.

Officials here say the first-hand view will be invaluable in separating facts from second-hand reports, which is what they are receiving..

Disease experts here are building on lessons from other outbreaks, such as SARS, MERS and Ebola, and already testing some drugs and vaccines.

"We are proceeding as if we will have to deploy vaccine. In other words, we are looking at this as a worst case scenario, that this will become a bigger outbreak," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

There has also been run on face masks in some areas of the US.

But they're not necessary, because the risk of infection in this country for the coronavirus is low.

However, if YOU are sick with any kind of respiratory infection, and going to the doctor, wearing a face mask can help because it protects other people.
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