INDIANAPOLIS — After a potential novel coronavirus patient in Porter County tested negative, there are currently no suspected cases in Indiana.
However, the Indiana State Department of Health is continuing efforts to educate Hoosiers about the virus that originated in China. The goal to ensure that the public, healthcare providers and local health departments have the latest information to keep themselves and their communities healthy, according to State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box.
“There continues to be no confirmed cases of 2019 novel coronavirus in Indiana at this time,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday.
“At my direction, the Indiana State Department of Health is working in close coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as other federal, state and local partners, to share information and monitor this evolving public health situation. While there is no need for immediate concern, the state will remain on alert to ensure Hoosiers are protected.”
While there are no suspected cases under investigation in Indiana, one resident who recently traveled to China is on self-quarantine in accordance with CDC guidelines, Box said.
That individual is not symptomatic, and all appropriate measures are being taken, she said. The ISDH would not provide additional information, citing privacy laws.
The person suspected of having the virus in Porter County was placed in isolation at an area hospital until blood tests conducted by the CDC confirmed they did not have the illness.
Box said information about the novel coronavirus outbreak is “changing rapidly” and encouraged Hoosiers to check the ISDH website for the most current information.
“We learn something new every day about this illness,” she said.
“While the news reports are concerning, I want to reassure Hoosiers that the majority of the patients under investigation in the U.S. so far have tested negative for novel coronavirus, and remind them that seasonal influenza poses a greater health risk at this time.”
According to the CDC, as of Wednesday, a total of 293 people in 36 states and territories have been tested for the virus. Of those, 11 tested positive and 206 negative, while results were pending for 76 people.
Positive tests were reported in Illinois, California, Arizona and Massachusetts. Confirmed cases have also been reported in 27 other countries, including Canada.
Influenza activity, however, is reported as “high” and “geographically widespread” in Indiana, according to the ISDH.
So far this flu season, which started in October 2019, there have been 45 influenza-related deaths in Indiana as of Jan. 25. Last week, outbreaks were reported at 9 long-term health facilities and 4 school districts.
Michigan City Area Schools used two eLearning Days last week after absences among students and staff reached a high level, and cleaning and sanitizing of buildings was conducted.
St. Stanislaus Catholic School was closing for two days this week for the same reason.
According to the ISDH, human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing
Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
Touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands
Rarely, fecal contamination
The best way to protect yourself from any respiratory illness, including the flu, according to the ISDH, is to:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Healthcare providers with a patient experiencing symptoms of novel coronavirus, or individuals who have symptoms and recently traveled to China are asked to contact the ISDH Epidemiology Resource Center at 317-233-7125, 317-233-1325 after hours, or firstname.lastname@example.org.