Coronavirus diagnosis likely to occur in New York City, says de Blasio

New York City Mayor Bil de Blasio said Friday that the spread of the coronavirus was not a matter of 'if' but of 'when' in the city.

Speaking alongside city health officials at the Office of Emergency Management in Brooklyn Friday, de Blasio told reporters that New Yorkers should go about their everyday lives but remain vigilant.

“There are no known cases in New York City, but that said, we have seen a spread that is so rapid now in seven countries, including the United States, that we have to act on the assumption that there will, unfortunately, be cases sooner rather than later in New York City,” De Blasio said. 

The deadly virus has killed at least 26 people in China where the outbreak originated. There are two confirmed cases in the United States with the second case announced Friday in Chicago.

Four people in New York State were in isolation as the CDC determined if they had the virus.

“With the best emergency response teams in the nation, New York City stands ready to respond to any potential cases of the coronavirus,” De Blasio said. “We will remain vigilant and ensure New Yorkers have the facts they need to stay safe.” 

While there are zero diagnoses in New York City at this time, coronavirus has been detected in hundreds of people worldwide. While initially thought to only spread through prolonged exposure, more recent epidemiology indicates that person-to-person transmission is possible. While some infections have resulted in severe illness, and even death, others have presented mild, flu-like symptoms and been discharged from care.  

The CDC recommends people avoid non-essential travel to Wuhan, China. For travel deemed essential, the Health Department has shared the following CDC recommendations with healthcare providers regarding travelers to Wuhan:
•    Avoid contact with sick people
•    Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat);  
•    Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
•    Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
•    Older travelers and those with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to Wuhan with their healthcare provider.

For those who recently traveled to Wuhan and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, CDC recommends:
•    Seek medical care right away. Before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about recent travel and symptoms.
•    Avoid contact with others.
•    Not travel while sick. 
•    Cover mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not hands) when coughing or sneezing.
•    Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.