San Marino city officials are taking steps to stay updated on the spread of a recent outbreak of a viral respiratory illness that started in China. As of Tuesday, there were five confirmed cases in the United States, with one in Los Angeles County and another in Orange County.
The illness, known as the Novel Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has since spread. Since December 2019, Chinese authorities preliminarily identified more than 2,000 human infections–which includes 56 deaths—as of January 26, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Despite the case in Los Angeles County, the department said the risk for the novel coronavirus to spread to residents is “deemed to be low at this time,” and there is “no immediate threat to the general public.”
Last Friday, San Marino Fire Chief Mario Rueda participated in a conference call for medical, governmental and emergency responders which was organized by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health in regard to the situation.
Rueda noted that the coronavirus strain, which has not been previously found in humans, can lead to fever, cough and shortness of breath. A majority of those infected reported exposure at a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan. There is some evidence of human-to-human transmission, but the nature of that has not yet been clarified.
For outreach, Rueda said that the city will continue to be in touch with health authorities and continue to update the city’s website (cityofsanmarino.org) as new information or developments occur.
“The steps we have taken so far are consistent with the recommendations of health authorities,” Rueda wrote in the release. “We will continue to inform residents and ask them to monitor themselves for the symptoms associated with the Novel Coronavirus. Should medical attention be needed, we ask that residents contact medical professionals if they exhibit any symptoms and have been in contact with anyone traveling from the Wuhan region.”
Rueda said that only a person with symptoms presents a risk. The public health department encouraged everyone to continue practicing “good public health hygiene as this is the height of flu season across the county.”
“There is no reason to ban any individuals from any public contacts, public events, or school that have traveled from Wuhan City, China and are not exhibiting any symptoms,” said Rueda. “Any symptomatic patient should be referred to medical treatment.”
If a resident or someone they know has traveled to Wuhan and feels sick, the public health department encourages them to stay home and avoid contact with others, except for seeking medical care; seek medical care right away; before traveling to a medical facility, call ahead to tell them of your recent travel and symptoms; do not travel while sick; wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds; use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water is not available and to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve–not hands—while sneezing.
While Rueda said that news reporting about emerging illnesses can often be upsetting, he urged residents to be calm.
“Health authorities throughout the world are focused on this illness, and City staff is closely following developments, is working closely with health authorities to make well-informed decisions, and is committed to protecting the health of the San Marino community,” said Rueda.
For more information on the virus, visit publichealth.lacounty.gov.