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“We do not need to panic” – County health officials navigate evolving Coronavirus situation

coronavirus
CBS News

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - As millions of people are on lockdown overseas, concerns surrounding Coronavirus continue to escalate after a scare at LAX. 

While Santa Barbara County health officials stress that there is no need to panic at the moment, they are taking precautions locally as they navigate an evolving health scare. 

Experts say the outbreak is so new it doesn’t even have a name and doctors say this reminds them of the SARS outbreak in the early 2000’s since Coronavirus can also mutate and be passed from animals to humans. 

“I have the mask. I’m trying to stay away from a lot of people,” said LAX passenger Ellen Brady. 

Travelers like Brady aren’t taking any chances as public health officials have been screening LAX passengers for the new Coronavirus since a deadly outbreak in China.

“Whatever I have to do. It’s pretty scary,” said Brady. 

Now an airport spokesperson confirms one of the LAX screeners sent a sick American Airlines passenger to the hospital for an evaluation Wednesday night.

“It’s not local, state, national or global crisis at the moment, definitely not. However, a national Chinese medical emergency has been declared and Chinese cities are basically on lockdown,” said Dr. Henning Ansorg, Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer. 

Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg says there is no need to panic although this is all a very fluid situation.

“News I just got from the State Health Department an hour ago may very well be invalid by this afternoon,” said Dr. Ansorg, explaining just how fast information is evolving. 

Ansorg says locally they are working with the CDC and State Health Department on a daily basis and everyone in their health alert network was notified.

“If a patient who has been traveling to Wuhan or any areas in that vicinity were to present to urgent care, or to a private clinic, or to a hospital, that hospital, mandatory has to call the health department in their jurisdiction,” said Ansorg. 

There is no medication for the Coronavirus.

“The only measures we have right now is to isolate ill people,” said Ansorg. 

Ansorg says the virus typically runs its course in one to two weeks. “We’re looking for fever or cough, an upper respiratory infection like a common cold, very similar to the flu,” he adds. 

Late Thursday, officials in China upped the death total to 25 and confirmed the first death outside the virus epicenter. 

“Fortunately we do not have, other than the suspected case that it’s just brand new in Los Angeles, we do not have any confirmed cases in California,” said Ansorg. 

Currently, screenings for Coronavirus are taking place at LAX, San Francisco International, and JFK Airports. Ansorg says Chicago and Atlanta will be added to the list this weekend. 

Ansorg says there’s a definitive Coronavirus test that CDC in Atlanta has, that can generate results from specimens overnight. 

Coronavirus / National/World / Santa Barbara - South County

Kacey Drescher

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