Health Officials Prepare for Spread of New Coronavirus, or COVID-19

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BISMARCK, N.D. –The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) continues to proactively and carefully monitor travelers from China in North Dakota daily and plan for community spread of COVID-19. Currently, nine individuals are being monitored and zero cases of COVID-19 have been reported in North Dakota. The term “monitoring” means the individual has a travel history from China but does not currently have any symptoms.

“With the North Dakota Department of Health, we are closely monitoring this rapidly evolving situation and taking all appropriate measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and fine-tune response plans in case it spreads to North Dakota,” Gov. Doug Burgum said. “The health, safety and well-being of our citizens remains our top priority, and we’re in frequent contact with the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local public health units to ensure everything is being done to monitor, contain and mitigate the spread of the virus and keep citizens informed with accurate and up-to-date health and travel information.”

As of February 28, there are more than 80,000 cases worldwide, including more than 2,700 deaths. There are 15 cases and no deaths to date in the United States. The CDC expects cases to continue to be confirmed in the upcoming days and weeks but wants everyone to take action to help prevent the spread of the virus. On February 26, the CDC confirmed the first instance of community spread of COVID-19 in California. An individual tested positive for COVID-19 but did not have a history of travel or exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19. The CDC expects cases to continue to be confirmed in the upcoming days and weeks but wants everyone to take action to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“The NDDoH team is working in coordination with federal and local partners to aggressively monitor, plan and prepare. Due to the rapidly changing nature of the spread of COVID-19 around the world, it is important for families to also be prepared,” said Mylynn Tufte, North Dakota State Health Officer. “The most important thing North Dakotans can do right now to help prevent the spread of disease is wash their hands often, clean surfaces regularly and stay home when sick.”

North Dakotans should prepare for situations common during a pandemic such as school and business closures, avoiding large crowds, and the need to stay at home when you’ve been exposed to a family member who has been sick. 

North Dakotans can reduce their risk for infection by:

  • Monitoring the CDC travel website for recommendations and guidelines
  • If you have traveled to affected countries, watch for symptoms of a respiratory illness for 14 days after returning
  • If you develop symptoms:
    • Call your health care provider immediately and tell them about your travel
    • Avoid contact with other people
    • Follow the directions of your provider and public health officials

Because this situation is changing rapidly, people who are planning international travel need to check the CDC travel website frequently to make sure they are getting the latest information. The CDC has issued a Level 3 travel warning for China and South Korea. This means that people should avoid nonessential travel to these areas. Level 2 alerts have been issued for Iran, Italy and Japan.  This means people who are at increased risk for severe illness such as those with underlying health conditions or older in age should avoid all nonessential travel to these countries. A level 1 watch has been issued for Hong Kong.  This means that people should follow routine precautions while traveling to this country. 

Symptoms of the COVID-19 in people who have been exposed can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.

For the most updated and timely information and updates related to COVID-19, visit the NDDoH website at www.health.nd.gov/coronavirus , follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

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