SALT LAKE CITY — Health departments across the United States and right here in Utah are preparing for the coronavirus.
The respiratory virus was first identified in China, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are now more than 1,000 confirmed cases in China and other confirmed cases have been reported in other countries including the United States.
As of Tuesday, there have been five confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., according to the CDC. There have been no confirmed cases in Utah, but the health department is prepared in case we do see the virus make its way here.
“We want to get prepared before we have any cases so we know that everybody is on the same page," Rebecca Ward, a health educator with the bureau of epidemiology for the Utah Department of Health, said.
This includes working with health leaders and making sure clinicians are prepared.
“We want to prevent the spread. So, right now in Utah we have no confirmed cases of coronavirus and yes, people are concerned and they should be because again novel means new just like in 2009 when we had H1N1, nobody had heard of that before and it's very concerning because it has not been here in the U.S. before," Ward said.
The CDC is asking people in the U.S. to avoid all nonessential travel to China at this time.
“You’re probably more likely to encounter someone with influenza than the coronavirus unless you’ve been traveling to China or you’ve been in contact with someone whose been to China," Ward said.
If you have been to China, or in contact with someone who has been to China recently and begin to have respiratory problems, Ward asks that you call your health care provider and explain the situation before you go to the doctor's office.
You should continue to take steps towards trying to stay healthy, including washing your hands, Ward said.
“You have a right to be worried and concerned but not panicked," she said.