Coronavirus hits San Benito County

Danger is low, unless someone has traveled to China recently

Two cases of corona virus have been confirmed in San Benito County.

Two cases of coronavirus—”2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)”— have been confirmed in San Benito County, health officials announced Sunday evening, Feb. 2.

“The confirmed cases are related: a husband and wife, and both are 57 years of age,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, San Benito County Health Officer,  at a hastily called press conference in Hollister following the Superbowl.

Fenstersheib the danger of infection from the virus is low, but the county is taking precautions, including isolating the couple at their home.

“The husband recently traveled from Wuhan, China the wife did not,” he said. “Therefore, there has been person-to-person transmission.”

Both patients have not left their home since returning from China, Fenstersheib said.  He said county Public Health Services provided guidance for home isolation and is closely monitoring their medical condition.

The two patients are not hospitalized, he said.

San Benito County Public Health Services is maintaining contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health, and is following all recommended guidelines, the health director said.

He offered this guidance to the public: If you have not been to China, or been in close contact with someone who has been to China and is sick, your risk is very low.  CDC guidance indicates that people who have casual contact with a case (in the same grocery store or movie theater, for instance) are at minimal risk of developing infection.

If you have recently been to China and feel sick, please stay home and avoid contact with others. Contact your doctor’s office or emergency room and tell them about your recent travels and symptoms.  Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely to protect the health of San Benito County residents and limit the spread of this virus,” Fenstersheib said. “We are working closely with Bay Area health officials, local health care providers and community partners.”

Also on Feb. 2, a second case of the new coronavirus strain was reported in Santa Clara County, according to Santa Clara County health officials.

“The second case is not related to the first case,” said Dr. Sara Cody, county health officer, in a statement released Sunday afternoon. “There is no immediate threat to the general public.”

Santa Clara County released no further information about the newly infected individual. 

“I understand that people are concerned, but based on what we know today, the risk to the general public remains low,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer, Santa Clara County.  “A second case is not unexpected. With our large population and the amount of travel to China for both personal and business reasons, we will likely see more cases, including close contacts to our cases.” 

This Santa Clara County case is not related to the first case but they both had recently traveled to Wuhan, China, according to health officials. She is a visitor to this county and arrived January 23 to visit family. She has stayed home since she arrived, except for two times to seek outpatient medical care. She has been regularly monitored and was never sick enough to be hospitalized, the county reported.

Family members have also been isolated, which means that they do not leave the house, even to buy groceries. The Public Health Department provides food and other necessary items.

Santa Clara County residents, students, workers, and visitors should continue to engage in their regular activities and practice good health hygiene since this is the height of flu season, the health department said. Healthy people should not be excluded from activities based on their race, country of origin or recent travel.

Anyone with respiratory symptoms, such as a cough, sore throat or fever, should stay home, practice proper cough etiquette and hand hygiene, and limit their contact with other people.

The outbreak in Wuhan, China is believed to have originated at a large seafood and animal market, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Subsequent cases indicated person-to-person spread is occurring.

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