The Santa Clara County Public Health Department is working quickly to identify anyone that may have come into contact with a man who has contracted the novel coronavirus. County health officials say the man traveled to Wuhan and Shanghai in China and then returned to the Bay Area through San Jose International Airport on Jan. 24.
“Since the patient returned back to the county, he has been self-isolating at home for the entire time,” said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. “He has not gone out except to seek medical care. He has not been very ill. He has not been ill enough to require hospitalization. He’s just been in for outpatient care. He’s currently being isolated at home and we will be following him closely at home until he is no longer infectious.”
Dr. Cody says the county is now working to identify anyone who may have come into contact with the man since his return to the United States. She says he lived with a few people and those household members are also being isolated and monitored by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.
The county is also working with local healthcare providers to determine who may have come into contact with the man while he was seeking medical care. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is working to identify anyone who may have been in contact with the man on his return flight.
Dr. Cody says while she understands the public’s concern, she still believes that people living in Santa Clara County are at low risk for contracting the novel coronavirus.
“Although we do understand that this confirmed case may raise concern, this one case, in fact, does not change the risk to the general public,” said Dr. Cody. “Our assessment is that the public at large is still at low risk because this case was careful to self-isolate at home for the entire time since he returned from China.”
“What distinguishes the novel influenza is that its novel, it’s new, there’s a lot that we don’t know,” said Dr. Cody. “I want to acknowledge that people feel rightly concerned because it’s new but as far as the amount of actual disease and infection it’s causing, it’s very, very small in the United States at this point.”
Dr. Cody says there are very simple rules people can follow to prevent the spread of an illness like the novel coronavirus.
“If you’re sick, stay home. Stay away from others. Second, if you’re sick and you’re with somebody else and you cough or sneeze, do it in your sleeve; use tissues, wash your hands carefully,” said Dr. Cody. “If you’re not sick and you don’t wish to be sick from other people, it’s also really important to wash your hands frequently and to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. And finally, it’s really important to get your flu shot, it’s still circulating.”
Dr. Cody believes at this point, the flu is much more dangerous in Santa Clara County than the novel coronavirus.
“Right now, we’re at the peak of the flu season, flu is circulating widely,” said Dr. Cody. “Hospitals are seeing a lot of influenza. It’s far more likely for people to become ill from the flu.”