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Man with presumptive case of coronavirus flew through Charlotte airport

He had recently traveled to Italy, and returned to the U.S. through Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A South Carolina man with a presumptive positive case of coronavirus returned from Italy on a flight that landed at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, officials confirmed Monday.

The man, who is one of six presumptive positive cases in South Carolina, was not displaying symptoms when he fly into Charlotte, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. He is not hospitalized and is isolated at home in Spartanburg.

It was not immediately known which day he flew through the airport. 

"The worst thing that we can do is panic," Gibbie Harris, Mecklenburg County Public Health Director, said Monday. She urged everyone to remain "calm" and use "caution."

"We're asking each individual to think strategically," she said."

Harris said the CDC has not recommended follow-up with other passengers that were on the plane with the patient. According to officials, that person was not symptomatic when they traveled.  

Mecklenburg County is limiting the travel of its own employees. They do not have plans at this time to cancel large public events, gatherings, or meetings for other organizations being hosted in Charlotte or throughout the county.

On Sunday, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) said the number of presumed coronavirus cases has risen to six, up from two the previous day.

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In North Carolina, there are two presumptive cases of coronavirus. 

“Presumptive positive” means samples from these individuals tested positive for COVID-19 at DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory, however, these results are required to be confirmed by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It takes 24-48 hours for the CDC to confirm samples after they’re received.

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"There is no reason for alarm," McMaster said Saturday. "We ask people to go about their daily lives, and to follow the ways to protect themselves from it."

COVID-19, a new coronavirus originating from China, has sparked global concern as the outbreak grows. While the risk to those in the U.S. still remains low, the Centers for Disease Control has recommended the American public prepare for the possibility of an outbreak.  

According to the CDC, patients diagnosed with this coronavirus experience a mild to severe respiratory illness. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Patents with severe complications from the virus often develop pneumonia in both lungs.  

The virus is spread person-to-person. According to the CDC, spread is happening mainly between people who are in close contact (within 6 feet) of each other via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets land on the noses and mouths of other people, who then inhale them.  

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There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 or medication to directly treat COVID-19. Therefore, the best way to protect yourself is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. The CDC recommends maintaining personal preventative actions such as: 

- Avoiding close contact with those who are sick

- Not touching your eyes, mouth or nose, especially with unwashed hands

- Washing your hands often with soap and warm water for last least 20 seconds

- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched

- Stay home if you are sick

- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue

There also is no need for members of the general public to wear surgical masks to guard against coronavirus. Individuals should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it.

According to the CDC, those most at at-risk from the coronavirus are:

  • Adults older than 70
  • People with serious chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease
  • The CDC says those groups should avoid crowds, including cruises and non-essential air travel.

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