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Press Releases

02/07/2020

DPH Provides Updates on Coronavirus Guidance to Local Health Districts and Schools

No Confirmed Cases of Coronavirus Strain from China in CT; Currently No Patients Under Investigation; State Public Health Lab Receiving Kit From Federal CDC to Enable Testing of Coronavirus if Necessary

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) today is sharing new guidance sent to all K-12 schools and local health departments for dealing with potential cases of the 2019 coronavirus (2019-nCoV) from an outbreak originating in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.

That Guidance can be found here:
https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/SDE/Digest/2019-20/2019-Novel-Coronavirus-Update-Schools-K-12-2_6_2020-final.pdf?la=en

This guidance follows guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which can be found here:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/risk-assessment.html

“Even though we currently have no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Connecticut and no patients under investigation, this new virus is a cause for concern,” said DPH Commissioner Renée D. Coleman-Mitchell.  “We are doing everything we can to communicate new guidance from our federal partners to local schools and health care providers for how to assess and manage risk of anyone possibly been exposed to coronavirus.  Though the current risk of coronavirus in our state remains low, we will keep everybody informed every step of the way.”

Travelers who spent time in mainland China within 14 days before arriving in the United States are being diverted to land at one of eleven airports in the US (Bradley International Airport is not one of these airports). In the airport they are asked questions about their travel and whether they have been in contact with anyone with 2019-nCoV. They also have their temperature taken and are asked about their health.

  • Travelers who have been in Hubei Province, China, or are sick, are referred for medical evaluation and are not allowed to continue to their final destinations.
  • Travelers who have not been in Hubei Province and who are well are given information about self-monitoring and continue to their final destinations. 
  • For those who arrived on or after February 3, 2020, the local health department at their destination is notified and will contact them to discuss self-monitoring and other recommendations.

CDC has informed the Connecticut DPH of several Connecticut residents who are not showing any symptoms of virus but who have recently returned from traveling to China and are now in a 14-day period of self-monitoring for signs of coronavirus.  This includes daily health and temperature checks, checking in with health care providers, while staying at home and away from work or large gatherings of people other than to purchase groceries or other essential items.    People with a travel history to China and no symptoms can return to work or school after the 14-day self-monitoring period is complete. There is no clearance process. People without symptoms are not tested for the virus.

Commissioner Coleman-Mitchell this week took the step of adding coronavirus to the list of reportable diseases, requiring all physicians in Connecticut to report new cases or patients under investigation to DPH.  This will help with active disease monitoring and surveillance, as well as coordination nationally with CDC.  The State Public Health Lab in Rocky Hill is also slated to receive a kit from CDC to be able to test for coronavirus locally.  The first kit – once prepared and tested – will be able to test results from 800 people for coronavirus

Connecticut DPH has had two persons under investigation for the new coronavirus – one in Middlesex County and the other in New Haven County.  Both persons tested positive for influenza type A and the cause of their illnesses is most likely the flu.  As a precaution, even though neither of these persons had traveled to Hubei Province in China, samples from both persons were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for coronavirus testing.  The person from Middlesex County tested negative for the new coronavirus, as did the person who was in New Haven County.

The Connecticut DPH has started weekly briefing calls with local health departments and with the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.  The Department has also participated in a briefing conference call with all acute care hospitals in Connecticut.

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses common in both humans and animals.  These viruses usually cause mild to moderate respiratory illnesses.  The source of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is suspected to be animals sold at an open-air market, in Wuhan, China; the virus is possibly a previously unrecognized bat coronavirus. It appears to cause a more severe illness progressing to pneumonia.

Connecticut is at the height of respiratory virus season.  Influenza activity in Connecticut is widespread.  A total of 1,366 influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported since the beginning of the 2019-20 season.  Nine new influenza-associated deaths were reported this week, including one pediatric death, resulting in a total of 32 influenza-associated deaths reported since the beginning of the 2019-20 season.

The most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) about the outbreak of a new coronavirus in China is available at:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html