Local hospitals screening for coronavirus as outbreak continues to spread in China

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — As the deadly coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, several Cleveland hospitals announced they are implementing precautionary measures to prevent the virus from spreading here in Northeast Ohio.

“We’ve already rolled out screening protocols to all of our emergency rooms here as far as asking about travel so we can be aware of any risk but we’re not freaking out,” said Dr. Amy Edwards, a University Hospitals Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a second case of the virus in the U.S. The latest patient returned to Illinois from Wuhan, China January 13 and reported symptoms a few days later.

The virus is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness in the Wuhan, Hubeai Province, China.

Recent travelers who develop a fever, cough or have difficulty breathing are urged by the CDC to seek medical attention. As of Friday, 26 deaths due to the virus were reported in China.

Dr. Edwards said although University Hospitals is taking additional precautions, the threat of flu is likely a more immediate concern for people in Northeast Ohio.

“Flu is way far and away a bigger concern for people in Cleveland right now than this coronavirus,” she said.

A spokesperson for MetroHealth System said they are also doing screenings for anyone who presents symptoms and has been to Wuhan, China in the past two weeks.

The Cleveland Clinic issued the following statement:

“We are closely following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization updates regarding this health issue and are following CDC guidance. As part of this, we have added a screening question to identify patients who have recently traveled to China. This is a dynamic situation, and we will continue to evolve and work with our public health partners to inform our approach going forward.”

Earlier this week, a Washington man was the first diagnosed with the virus in the U.S. after recent travel to Wuhan.

There is no known vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

University Hospitals released the statement below: 

“We are screening for travel in our Emergency Rooms. We already have protective precautions in place for any novel respiratory virus, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and proper testing. We are currently putting together a quick guide for physicians and other clinicians that will go out to them with vital info for screening and keeping or employees/patients safe as well as providing the best care for these patients.”

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