PORT ORCHARD — Kitsap County residents have so far avoided exposure to the deadly novel coronavirus, which has claimed more than 2,000 lives worldwide, including five people outside mainland China.
CNN reported Wednesday that more than 75,000 people around the world have been infected by the virus. Still, health officials indicate they will be ready to handle the situation if someone locally is found to have the virus.
In Kitsap County, there are no cases of coronavirus and no one under investigation for the illness at this time, Dr. Susan Turner, Kitsap Public Health’s officer, said.
Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton provided this prepared statement on the hospital’s readiness to deal with a suspected case of coronavirus:
“Harrison Medical Center is closely monitoring all developments with the coronavirus. We are in contact with local and state authorities as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and our staff is following the latest guidance from these public health agencies.
“Harrison Medical Center manages infectious disease on a regular basis and adheres to policies in place for this purpose. We have the necessary supplies and are prepared to identify, isolate and treat any potential client who seeks care in our facility,” said Cary Evans, vice president for communications and government affairs at CHI Franciscan.
County health officials report they are taking steps to be ready should an unexpected case of coronavirus surface in the area.
“We have plans in place to respond rapidly to communicable disease risks in our community and are refining these plans as needed to address novel coronavirus,” Turner said.
“We are coordinating with local health care providers, government agencies and others to ensure they are included in response planning and have up-to-date information related to novel coronavirus,” Turner added.
Despite concerns about the international spread of the novel coronavirus, there has only been one confirmed case in Washington state of a person contracting the virus and no evidence the virus is spreading, the official said. A man from Snohomish County, who returned in January from Wuhan, China, became ill and was diagnosed with the virus.
Media accounts of the coronavirus have raised concerns by some about boarding a commercial airliner at Sea-Tac or getting on a cruise ship out of Seattle. Headlines about the virus halting the manufacturing of some automobiles and smartphones in China and impacts on the stock market have added to worries about the contagious virus.
There is no need for alarm because of the outbreak, officials say.
“It is totally reasonable to continue doing your normal activities, like going to concerts or sporting events like Seattle Dragons football game,” said Dr. John B. Lynch, who specializes in infectious disease and travel medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
“Some are concerned about getting on airplanes, but it is fine to continue traveling domestically and internationally, other than to Mainland China where the State Departments recommends not going to,” Lynch said.
“When you look at the numbers, reported cases of the virus are largely based in mainland China and the province where Wuhan is located,” he said.
China is experiencing an expanding outbreak of respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus (officially termed COVID-19). The virus originated in Hubie Province, China, in December. The virus is spreading from person to person and confirmed cases exist in the United States and a number of other countries, officials have reported.
Coronavirus is commonly spread from person-to-person contact by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu is spread, according to the State Department of Health. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of those nearby or possibly can be inhaled into the lungs.
The Washington State Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public about the coronavirus. Those with questions about what is happening in Washington state, how the virus is spread and what to do if you have symptoms, can call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.