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Possible case of coronavirus in North Carolina

Passenger with symptoms flew from China to Raleigh. The patient is in isolation at a North Carolina hospital.

RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is investigating a possible case coronavirus.

The patient flew from China to Raleigh, where they were placed in medical isolation after displaying symptoms, according to officials.

The individual, whose name is not being released, traveled to Wuhan City, where the outbreak originated, but had not visited the seafood and animal market that was linked to many early cases, North Carolina state officials announced Friday afternoon. 

This person arrived at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. The patient presented with mild respiratory symptoms and is currently in good condition and being cared for at Duke University Hospital, according to officials.

Officials have confirmed two patients sickened with coronavirus nationwide. Other possible cases, such as the case in North Carolina, is one of more than 60 across 22 states being tested and monitored.

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The Division of Public Health is coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to test for the coronavirus. A diagnosis cannot be confirmed at this time, officials cautioned. The DHHS is expected to update the public as soon as the results from the CDC are available.

"Although it is unlikely that this person was infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus, we are conducting testing out of an abundance of caution," said Dr. Zack Moore, State Epidemiologist. "If you haven’t traveled to Wuhan in the past two weeks, your risk of infection with this virus is very low."

The person did not have close contact with anyone after disembarking at the airport in North Carolina and wore a mask the entire time while at the airport, officials said. The person was transported directly to the hospital from RDU for assessment.

"People who were at RDU or the hospital at the same time as this individual was present are not considered at risk for infection," a released statement from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said Friday.

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If infection with the 2019 coronavirus is confirmed, DPH will work closely with the CDC and local partners to contact passengers of the flight.

Travelers to Wuhan who develop a fever or respiratory symptoms, including cough and difficulty breathing, within 14 days of leaving Wuhan should contact their doctor right away and should call ahead before going to the clinic, urgent care or emergency room so appropriate steps can be taken to avoid exposing others.

Testing for the 2019 coronavirus is only available at CDC currently.

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The North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health is preparing to implement the CDC-developed test to detect novel coronavirus once it is distributed to state public health laboratories, officials said.

At present, the vast majority of cases have been diagnosed in people who live in or traveled to Wuhan, China. To date, there have been no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in North Carolina.

To date, there are only two confirmed cases in the United States.