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Health officials throughout the Bay Area are reminding residents to take precautions against the coronavirus, which has already killed at least 82 people worldwide.
Although no cases had been confirmed in the Bay Area as of Monday, about 3,000 people have been sickened across the globe by the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China sometime last month.
Officials with San Francisco’s Department of Public Health said as of Friday there were zero cases citywide, but they are actively monitoring the situation.
“We are working very closely with both our partners, the California Department of Public Health as well as the Centers for Disease Control, the CDC, to monitor the novel coronavirus and enact prevention measures. At this time, residents of San Francisco and the Bay Area are at very low risk of becoming infected,” said Dr. Susan Philip, DPH’s director of disease prevention and control.
“The only exception is if they’ve traveled to Wuhan, China, or have been in contact with an individual who has traveled to that area and has symptoms of respiratory illness, which includes fever, cough and shortness of breath,” she said.
To lower the chances of becoming infected, Philips recommends that people regularly wash their hands, cover their coughs with their hands and stay home when they are sick.
“There does seem to be some person-to-person transmission happening, but we don’t know the extent to it. We also don’t know the entire severity of the illness; while some people become very, very ill with pneumonia and, as we said, some people have died. Many other people may have less severe illness and not even need to seek care in a hospital or emergency room, so there’s much to learn about this virus,” she said.
Other Bay Area counties, including Alameda, Santa Clara, Sonoma, Contra Costa and Solano, said no cases had been confirmed there.
Officials with the CDC confirmed Monday there have been five cases nationwide — two in Southern California and one each in Washington, Illinois and Arizona. In all cases, the patients had recently returned from Wuhan.
At least 100 people in 26 states were being monitored for the disease as of Monday, CDC officials said.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which circulate among animals like camels, cats and bats. Although rare, some viruses can evolve and infect humans, like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), according to the CDC.
The CDC is monitoring people arriving from Wuhan at a handful of airports nationwide, including San Francisco International Airport.
With the Lunar New Year that began Saturday and with Chinese New Year festivities getting underway in San Francisco, city health officials said the virus should not alter anyone’s plans.
“We’re not advising people change their plans for Lunar New Year,” Philip said.
Anyone who has traveled to Wuhan in the last three weeks, has come in contact with someone who has, or has respiratory symptoms is urged to seek medical care right away and let their providers know about any recent travel.