Oklahoma medical officials awaiting coronavirus test results on two people

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Health experts in Oklahoma say they are still waiting on test results to come back for two people who are being tested for coronavirus.

Earlier this week, officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Health announced they were working with health care providers and federal partners to test two people who met certain criteria to be tested for possible novel coronavirus.

On Wednesday, health officials announced that both of the samples have been forwarded to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They say they expect to have the results in 24 to 36 hours.

“We don’t want Oklahomans to be fearful, but we are taking it seriously in public health,” said Commissioner of Health Gary Cox.

At this point, officials say they are monitoring the two individuals.

Health experts say there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from the virus:

  • The public should rethink any unnecessary plans to go to China.
  • If you’ve returned from China, watch for symptoms of the flu.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Avoid contact with ill people.
  • Stay home if sick.

Officials say that Oklahomans have a low-risk for infection from the coronavirus.

“Really it’s limited to closer contacts, more extensive amount of times in person with individuals. So just walking through a general public space would not necessarily put a person at a higher risk,” said Oklahoma State Epidemiologist Laurence Burnsed.

We know the two individuals being tested are isolated; neither had to be hospitalized.

“If they can manage their symptoms at home with just personal care, then they’re going to be isolated at home and we’ll be in daily contact with those individuals,” Burnsed said.

For confidentiality reasons, health officials cannot confirm where in the state the two individuals are.

“If there’s a need to notify the general public about a potential risk in a public setting, then that would be a situation where we put out more details in regards to public places a person might have frequented. The specific times of day and dates that they were there and what symptoms to look out for,” Burnsed said.

They also addressed ways the virus spreads, and symptoms that would require testing.

“From coughing, sneezing, laughing and talking, they may expel droplets of the virus and then those in close proximity,” Burnsed said. “Symptoms specific to fever and cough or shortness of breath and history of travel specific to Wuhan, China, and or if they were in contact of a confirmed case. So in order for us to initiate investigation which would involve collecting specimens for testing an individual, that would have to meet that criteria.”

State health officials are also working with other federal agencies, to put together a response team if an outbreak has to be dealt with.

Doctors also tell us there’s no specific treatment for the virus.

“So the way people get better is through your own immune system and what we call natural host defenses,” Dr. Douglas Drevets said.

Although many people are focused on the coronavirus, experts say you should also take precautions because we’re in the midst of a heavy flu season.

The symptoms of the coronavirus are similar to the flu. Officials stress that the coronavirus seems to be spread among people with closer, prolonged contact with patients.

So far, 132 people have died from the coronavirus and more than 6,100 other patients have been infected with the virus across the globe. Most of those cases are from mainland China, where the virus was first detected in December.

On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a level 3 alert warning against “all nonessential travel to China” — its highest alert on a scale of 1 to 3.

“There is an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that can be spread from person to person,” the CDC said in a statement, warning “there is limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas.”

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