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Quad-Cities health officials: Coronavirus risk here is low

Quad-Cities health officials: Coronavirus risk here is low

No cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Rock Island or Scott counties, but health officials say they have a plan in place should the virus spread here.

The disease so far has only been found in those who have traveled to a specific region in China. One case has been confirmed in Chicago. Symptoms of the coronavirus are similar to the common cold and include fever, coughing and shortness of breath, but so far, 106 people have died as a result. 

"We will work with the local health systems and people who believe that they have been exposed," said Janet Hill, Rock Island Health Department chief operating officer. "It's important to note this has all been travel-related, there are not any cases that are not originating in China."

She said the Illinois Department of Health considers it an urgent matter, but also believes the risk to the general public is low.

Scott County Clinical Services Coordinator Roma Taylor said the risk in Iowa also is low.

"We've had no cases in Scott County, we don't have any cases in Iowa, we don't even have any cases that are under investigation," she said.

If a person has symptoms and has been to China in the past few weeks, Hill said they should call their physician, who will recommend a trip to the emergency room or an office visit. That physician would inform the Rock Island County Health Department, which would submit it to the state health department, who in turn would inform the CDC.

"It's important for the patient to disclose that they possibly could have a travel-related case," Hill said.

Taylor said if a case is confirmed in Iowa, they'll consult with the Iowa Department of Public Health. Depending on how ill the patient is, they would have to be in isolation in a hospital.

"We would be monitoring their household contacts or any outside contacts they may have had," she said. Those people would receive information on signs and symptoms of the virus during an incubation period of two to 16 days.

Hill and Taylor said people are much more likely to get sick from the general flu. They recommended a flu shot, for those not previously vaccinated for the season.

"If you're sick, stay home. Wash hands often," Taylor said. "But right now, the general public is at a very low risk of getting the coronavirus."

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