CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — A woman fell severely ill when she returned to Catawba County after traveling to China and Thailand, according to several people who know her.
The Catawba County Sheriff’s Office was called to the woman’s home outside of Claremont earlier this month for a welfare check.
Senior Pastor Nhia Vang at True Life Church in Hickory said he became so concerned about the member of his congregation that he called deputies to her home.
But when they arrived, he said, deputies wouldn’t go inside after learning the victim had recently returned from Southeast Asia and became so sick she stopped showing up to work.
Vang said because she had also traveled through China on her way to Thailand, he too wouldn’t go inside the home.
“When we called the police, we told them that she came back from Southeast Asia. So they were very careful, and that’s why police did not go inside the house,” Vang said.
“And you didn’t go inside either?” Channel 9’s Dave Faherty asked.
“I did not go inside either because I don’t have a mask or gloves,” Vang replied.
Neighbors said emergency personnel wore protective clothing.
The City of Claremont confirmed it helped the Sheriff’s Office and EMS personnel with a welfare check at Tyson Foods on Feb. 7, but the person they were checking on wasn’t there. The city said county officials later contacted the person at a home outside the city.
Channel 9 confirmed the woman was taken to Catawba County Medical Center.
This comes amid growing fears about the coronavirus worldwide.
Andy Vue said his parents were the ones who traveled to Southeast Asia with the woman who became sick days after returning to her home in Claremont.
Vue doesn’t believe coronavirus is responsible for her illness.
“Before they even went to their vacation for a whole month she had already been aching back and forth. And my mom and dad said, ‘Go check up with a doctor about your body,’ and she said, ‘No,’” Vue said.
It has been hard for friends or even her pastor to get information about her condition.
Vang said the woman’s family lives out of state, and when he went to Catawba Valley Medical Center Wednesday, he was told she wasn’t there.
“We don’t know what happened. Nobody report anything to me. I went to the hospital to look for her, but nobody told me anything about whether she is still alive or dead,” Vang said.
Channel 9 has contacted the Catawba County Public Health Department to try and get more information.
“To date, there are no confirmed cases of 2019 novel coronavirus in North Carolina. To protect individuals’ privacy, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will not publicly disclose the number of people being evaluated for the virus,” the health department said in a statement. “Appropriate infection prevention measures will be taken if and when a person is under investigation. Should there be any positive test results, the total number of confirmed cases in North Carolina will be added to and updated.”
Channel 9 also reached out to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A spokesperson said, “At this time, CDC has not confirmed any coronavirus cases in North Carolina, and we are not reporting cases being tested by state due to sheer volume of cases being tested.”
Diagnostic testing for the 2019 novel coronavirus, newly named by the World Health Organization, Covid-19, can only be done at the CDC.
Though no coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the Carolinas, Channel 9 has reported that doctors in Mecklenburg County are closely monitoring four people -- and on Tuesday, Rowan County Public Health officials said they were monitoring several travelers who returned to the county from recent trips to mainland China.
According to CDC guidelines, health care providers should notify infection control personnel at their health care facilities and their local or state health departments immediately if a person is under investigation for the virus. The state health department should then immediately notify the CDC.
Symptoms of the virus can include fever, cough or shortness of breath. The CDC believes those symptoms may show up in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
As of 6 a.m. Tuesday, the World Health Organization said just over 42,700 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in China and nearly 400 cases in two dozen other countries.
Coronavirus has killed more than 1,017 people in China and one person in the Philippines, according to health officials.
Gov. Roy Cooper says a new state panel monitoring a new virus that has killed over 1,000 people in China will help keep North Carolina residents safe and informed about the disease.
The new Novel Coronavirus Task Force unveiled this week will be led by State Health Director Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson and Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry.
The panel's chief job will be to continue coordinated activities between state and local agencies and the federal government, particularly the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cooper's office said in a news release.
Cooper affirmed the risk to North Carolina from the new coronavirus discovered in 2019 remains low, and there have been no confirmed cases of the virus in the state.
The Cooper news release said following preventive measures to avoid the flu — like washing hands thoroughly and covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve while sneezing — could prevent the spread of other viruses.
The Division of Public Health’s website has information on the new coronavirus. People with questions can also call a state hotline.
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