FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2020
Contact:
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683
Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683

State Health Agency Responds to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced today testing is in process for five people for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in our state. Results are pending in these cases. Test results for an additional patient under investigation were negative. 

“DHS is actively monitoring this outbreak and working with our local, state, and federal partners to be able to respond quickly and effectively when people have symptoms of this virus and a likelihood of exposure,” said State Health Officer Jeanne Ayers. “While all information we have so far shows there is low risk to the general public, we take new infectious diseases seriously and are taking precautions.”

We are closely coordinating with local health departments and our federal partners to stay on top of this issue. Our local partners are helping us conduct interviews, collect specimens, and follow up with patients to see who they have been in contact with.

DHS has asked health care providers to alert us if a person with recent travel to Wuhan, China has become sick with fever or respiratory symptoms. When people under investigation for novel coronavirus are evaluated, clinical samples are collected and submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for testing. That testing can take several days. If there is a confirmed case in Wisconsin, details and protective recommendations will be shared with the affected person, or persons, and the public. 

Coronavirus isn’t rare. In fact, seasonal coronavirus activity typically increases in Wisconsin this time of year, along with influenza and other respiratory viruses. Attention is heightened in this outbreak because it is a novel, or new, form of the virus.

“We know people are wondering what to do to protect themselves and their families from this virus. Our best advice is to follow the same steps for avoiding colds and flu, including staying home when you’re sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and frequently washing hands,” Ayers said.

People who are planning a trip to China should keep an eye on news reports and be aware of this rapidly changing situation. People who have returned from China and are feeling sick should contact their health care provider and let them know about the travel and symptoms before going to a clinic, office, or emergency room.

DHS is providing updates on 2019 novel coronavirus, including case counts, on our Outbreaks and Investigations webpage. It will be updated by 2 p.m. each afternoon.

Because we are still in flu season and the flu is also a serious respiratory disease, we continue to encourage everyone to get a flu shot, if you are able.