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SANTA FE– The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reports today it is alerting healthcare providers to be proactive and vigilant with regards to a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), particularly with travelers returning home from traveling abroad and presenting fever and respiratory symptoms. 

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others circulating among animals including camels, cats and bats. While originally thought to be spreading from animal-to-person, limited person-to-person spread is happening. It’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday confirmed the first case of 2020 of this virus in the United States in the state of Washington. The patient recently returned from Wuhan, China, a city which as of tomorrow will be quarantined to try to halt the spread. 

“It’s important everyone understand there are currently no cases detected in New Mexico, and cases are not expected to be directly imported in the state,” said NMDOH Secretary Kathy Kunkel. “However, our New Mexico’s medical providers need to be attentive to every patient’s travel history and symptoms.”

As of January 21, 2020, more than 300 laboratory-confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV infection in six countries, including six deaths, have been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Any remaining travelers arriving from Wuhan are now being screened for fever and respiratory symptoms at airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City, with Atlanta and Chicago preparing to begin screening as well. These sites were chosen for being the most likely ports of entry for travelers arriving from Wuhan. 

The CDC reports that based on current information, the immediate health risk to the general American public is low. In addition, the WHO has a FAQ page available to the public.

Healthcare professionals who suspect 2019-nCoV should immediately notify infection control personnel at their facility and contact the New Mexico Department of Health at: (505) 827-0006. 

Updated information is being released rapidly. Please consult the CDC website on 2019-nCoV for the most up to date information. 

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