The Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and MetroHealth confirmed they are starting to screen patients who recently traveled to China, based on guidance from the CDC. The epicenter of the virus is Wuhan, China.
(TNS) – Northeast Ohio’s three largest health systems are screening patients for the Novel Coronavirus, which has caused a pneumonia outbreak in China.
The Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and MetroHealth confirmed they are starting to screen patients who recently traveled to China, based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The epicenter of the virus is Wuhan, China.
Two cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the U.S. – in Washington and in Chicago – and more than 60 other people in 22 states are being investigated, according to the CDC. Symptoms of the coronavirus include mild to severe respiratory illness, as well as fever, cough and shortness of breath, the CDC said.
The Ohio Department of Health said Friday there are no known cases of coronavirus in the state. Amy Acton, director of ODH on Thursday classified Novel Coronavirus a Class A reportable infectious disease, which means that all suspected cases need to be reported to local health districts.
MetroHealth’s screening efforts are focused on those who have traveled to China and who exhibit symptoms, such as a fever and cough, said Mike Tobin, vice president of communications, government and community relations at MetroHealth.
“Because we operate a special diseases care unit specifically for emerging infectious diseases – not just Ebola, we have a robust preparedness culture already in place,” Tobin said.
Likewise, the Clinic added travel questions to its intake process during outpatient visits, said Andrea Pacetti, a senior manager of public and media relations at the Clinic. Travel screenings are already routinely asked of inpatients, Pacetti said.
“This is a dynamic situation, and we will continue to evolve and work with our public health partners to inform our approach going forward,” the Clinic said in a prepared statement.
University Hospitals is implementing a travel screening protocol in its emergency rooms, on top of existing precautions for novel respiratory viruses, such as testing and personal protective equipment, said George Stamatis, senior media relations strategist at UH.
UH also is putting together a guide for physicians and other clinicians that includes information on screening, safety for employees and patients and best practices for care, Stamatis said.
In China, there have been more than 20 deaths and more than 800 cases of the coronavirus, and the Chinese government has imposed a travel ban in a dozen cities.
The CDC believes the risk “to the American public at large remains low at this time” but has started entry screening at five major U.S. airports and taking other precautionary efforts.
The World Health Organization on Thursday said it is “too early” to declare the coronavirus an international public health emergency.
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