The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) announced late Friday afternoon that it was investigating two possible cases of the 2019-2020 coronavirus (known officially as 2019-nCoV).
According to a release from the agency, the two “presumptive positive” Palmetto State cases are not linked. One case – affecting an elderly adult female – was located in Kershaw county. That patient has been hospitalized and is in isolation. The other case – affecting an adult female who recently traveled to France and Italy – is located in Charleston county. This patient “did not require hospitalization and is self-isolated at home,” according to SCDHEC.
Worldwide, 2019-nCoV has infected 99,624 people in 90 countries, according to the latest statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO). It has killed 3,400 people.
In the United States, more than 300 people have been infected and at least fifteen have died. In response to the spread of the virus, U.S. president Donald Trump signed legislation on Friday authorizing $8.3 billion in emergency spending aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.
“We understand that residents have concerns about how the virus may impact South Carolinians,” said state epidemiologist Linda Bell. “While the risk to the public remains low, there is no evidence of ongoing transmission in the community at this time and our primary goals remain prevention and control.”
SCDHEC’s public health laboratory confirmed positive tests on the two samples submitted to it, although according to the agency these results are “required to be confirmed” by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The samples are currently in the process of being submitted for this confirmatory testing, and SCDHEC said it will update the public as soon as the test results from the CDC are available, “which typically takes 24 to 48 hours after the specimens are received,” according to the agency’s release.
So far, the agency has tested ten South Carolinians for 2019-nCoV – including the two presumptive positive tests. The remaining tests were negative.
“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,” Bell said.
Not everyone was buying Bell’s optimism related to the status of the virus – and its possible transmission within the Palmetto State.
“For her to say there is no transmission in South Carolina is utterly irresponsible,” a source familiar with 2019-nCoV epidemiology told us. “She doesn’t and quite frankly CAN’T know that.”
SCDHEC urged South Carolinians with general questions about coronavirus to visit scdhec.gov/COVID19 or the CDC website here. The agency has also established a coronavirus call line at 1-855-472-3432.
“Call volume has been high,” the agency’s release warned. “Callers are urged to be patient if they receive a busy signal and try their call at a later time.”
Residents concerned about their own personal health – or who are showing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, are being urged to call their personal doctor or health care provider.
For additional information, our news director Mandy Matney penned an extensive piece about the coming coronavirus earlier this week.
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