DHEC keeping an eye on virus threat

COLUMBIA — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is closely monitoring developments concerning cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. DHEC briefed members of the state Legislature and issued this statement to provide an update on activities related to the virus:
“We are closely monitoring for potential cases related to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), both domestically and abroad. No cases have been currently identified in South Carolina.
“This is a rapidly evolving public health event, and DHEC takes every new infectious disease very seriously. As the state’s lead public health agency, we are taking proactive steps to be prepared for potential cases in South Carolina, including remaining updated on and following the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations related to surveillance, evaluation, and response.
“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as pneumonia. Outbreaks of novel virus infections are public health concerns.
“The possible risk of 2019-nCoV infections in South Carolina depends on multiple factors, including the likelihood of travelers from affected areas, how easily the virus may spread from person to person and others of which are still unknown with 2019-nCoV. Although the potential of human-to-human spread raises the level of concern in the U.S., the CDC believes the risk to the American public remains low at this time.
“We understand that residents may have concerns about how the virus may impact South Carolinians. Our ongoing goal remains prevention. DHEC and the CDC currently recommend avoiding all nonessential travel to China.
“No additional precautions are recommended for the public at this time, beyond the simple daily precautions that everyone should always take steps to stop the spread of illness, including getting the flu vaccine, washing your hands, covering your cough, and appropriately disposing tissues and other items contaminated with respiratory droplets.
“We have developed strong relationships with health providers through the years. Together, we have planned, prepared, and tested our ability to respond to public health threats like 2019-nCoV.
“As with any reportable communicable diseases, we will work with health care providers to ensure that patients are appropriately screened for the risk of 2019-nCoV and that DHEC is notified in order to facilitate a rapid response in the event that they encounter any cases of concern.”

Author: Rachel Howell

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