Concerns heighten as 2 people in New Hampshire undergo testing for coronavirus

CONCORD, N.H. (WHDH) - Concerns over the coronavirus have heightened in New England after officials announced that two people in New Hampshire are undergoing testing for the potentially deadly virus.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services says the individuals in question recently traveled to Wuhan City — the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak.

The individuals, whose names have not been released, have reportedly developed mild respiratory symptoms. Both are said to be recovering at this time.

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Officials say the individuals will remain isolated until test results become available. Samples have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The risk to our communities in New Hampshire is low, but we want to identify people who may be infected with this new coronavirus in order to prevent spread,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said in a news release. “We have recommended that healthcare providers conduct travel screenings and implement isolation practices for patients with a fever or respiratory illness who report travel to this affected region of China. This is a rapidly changing situation, and we remain committed to providing timely updates to residents of New Hampshire and our health care providers.”

If testing confirms a case of coronavirus, the Division of Public Health Services says it will “share that information and protective recommendations with both the affected parties and the public as quickly as possible.”

The CDC has confirmed five infections of coronavirus in America from four states and is testing more than 100 additional individuals across the country.

“They can spread the disease for days before they become sick then quarantining those sick people is not a sufficient strategy,” infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner said.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh said there are no suspected cases in Boston but the city is prepared.

“Our public health agencies are trained to respond to infectious diseases,” he said. “We are constantly assessing potential threats and we’ll be ready in case a virus does appear.”

Thousands have become sick with the coronavirus in China and more than 100 people have died.

There are currently no vaccines available to protect against the virus.

The United States is working to evacuate Americans from Wuhan and are advising travelers to cancel their plans to that region.

The CDC recommends taking precautionary measures similar to those for flu prevention, including frequent handwashing with soap and water, avoiding sick people, staying home if you are sick, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.

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