Wisconsin DHS: 4 more people being tested for coronavirus

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services says they are investigating four more potential cases of coronavirus following Wednesday’s announcement that an individual in Dane Co. was confirmed to have the virus.

View of a lab in the vaccine innovation department at Pasteur Institute in Paris, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. Scientists at the Pasteur Institute developed and shared a quick test for the new virus that is spreading worldwide, and are using genetic information about the coronavirus to develop a potential vaccine and treatments. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

The individuals were flagged because they met CDC requirements for possible new coronavirus cases. They did not say if the four were connected to the confirmed case. All of them are self-isolated or self-quarantined.

READ: Dane County resident is Wisconsin's first confirmed coronavirus case

"[They] are calling into their providers before they go in. They’re scared what’s happening. They are listening to our directions and they have been extremely compliant to home isolation at this point," Respiratory Disease Epidemiologist Tom Haupt said at a DHS press conference on Monday.

To protect their privacy, health officials did not provide any information about the four individuals' identities or where they live.

"It is not a panic situation, but it is a serious situation that we again are working very hard to assure the safety of the public is continuing," Haupt said.

SIX PATIENTS IN MADISON

Including those four cases, health officials are waiting for the results from six total patients. The agency says it will take one to two weeks to get results.

While state officials reminded Wisconsin residents the coronavirus risk to them remains low, Haupt pointed out that, "this is in lieu of increased influenza activity that I want people to be aware of."

The agency said travel history and close contact with a patient are the main criteria for health departments to track.

"We consider close contacts to be anyone within six feet of a case and so that really helps us to look for and test people who would have been in close contact and we work very hard to do an appropriate follow-up with all individuals," DHS Communicable Diseases Epidemiology Section Chief Traci DeSalvo said.

CONTRACTED IN CHINA

The confirmed case was a patient who contracted it while in China celebrating the Chinese New Year, officials said. The person was taken straight from the airport to UW-Madison’s hospital. From there, the patient went home and remains self-quarantined and, they noted the family is being very cooperative.

They did note that no one at the airport at the same time as the confirmed case is at risk and the only ones on the plane who would be at risk are those sitting in the same row as an infected person or those two rows in front or behind them.

The agency is working with CDC's Division of Quarantine to narrow down the list of those who may have been in close contact with the confirmed patient.

HEALTH HOTLINE

Dane County has set up a hotline for people to call in to ask questions about the coronavirus. That number is: 608-243-0587.

GOVERNOR RESPONDS

Gov. Tony Evers also released a statement on the coronavirus in the Madison area:


“This morning I was briefed by the team handling the response at the Department of Health Services. While we now have a confirmed case of coronavirus in Wisconsin, the risk to the general public remains low. We are working aggressively to respond to and monitor this situation. DHS and their local and federal partners are working together to prevent disease transmission by evaluating close contacts of the patient and health care personnel who care for the patient with the confirmed case.

“Individuals who have been potentially exposed to the patient with the confirmed case are being contacted and advised on symptoms to watch for and steps to take if they experience symptoms. When someone is being evaluated for the virus or has been in close contact with a confirmed case, they are placed in isolation. I want to be very clear: ethnic background has no influence on risk of coronavirus. Only travel history or direct close contact with a case would put someone at risk of transmission. Our public health officials are responding with extreme caution.

“I want to thank the Department of Health Services, the Centers for Disease Control and local health departments who have been working around the clock to protect Wisconsinites. Any time we are faced with a new disease threat, it can be an anxious time, because there are many unknowns. I want to reinforce that Wisconsin has incredible health professionals who are up to this task, and that the risk to the general public remains low.”