North Carolina patient not infected with coronavirus, health officials confirm after tests

Health officials investigate possible case of coronavirus in North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said test results came back negative for a possible case of the coronavirus.

“We are pleased that test results were negative and that the patient remains in good health,” said Dr. Zack Moore, state epidemiologist. “We are working with CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and local partners to be sure we are prepared to detect and respond to any possible cases that might occur in North Carolina in the future.”

The person tested had traveled to China and passed through Wuhan, where the outbreak started. They then flew from China to JFK airport in New York and arrived at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Thursday.

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“I just think it’s lucky it didn’t come to Charlotte. Raleigh is a big city, but if it hits Charlotte, Charlotte is a central hub,” said passenger Connor Smith.

Early cases of the infection were linked to a seafood and animal market in Wuhan, but officials said the person did not visit that market. The person also wore a mask the entire time while they were at the airport, authorities said.

“It started from an animal source but has now changed so that it has the ability to spread from person to person, especially when there’s close contact between people," said Dr. Katie Passaretti, with Atrium Health.

The patient was taken to Duke University Hospital with mild respiratory symptoms, and officials said they are in good condition. After tests, the CDC confirmed the patient was not infected with the virus.

No cases of the coronavirus have been identified in North Carolina at this point.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport released a statement regarding the coronavirus investigation:

“Out of an abundance of caution, RDU followed the guidance of public health experts and completed appropriate disinfection protocols. Airport operations were not disrupted and RDU remains under normal operations.” Read the full statement here.

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“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. Moore. “If you haven’t traveled to Wuhan in the past two weeks, your risk of infection with this virus is very low.”

Channel 9 reached out to multiple airlines who said they are monitoring the outbreak and any possible cases. They are also working closely with the CDC to take appropriate measures.

American Airlines said it was expanding travel waivers to people headed to China.

Channel 9 also learned that some crews flying into places like Shangai, Bejing and Hong Kong will now be allowed to wear face masks.

“It seems like everything is very contained and it seems like everyone is taking the proper precautions," said passenger Steven Millner.

At Charlotte Douglass International Airport, there are no direct flights between Charlotte and China.

A statement from Wake County officials said:

"Wake County is paying close attention to the potential for the coronavirus in our community.

We are following the guidance from the CDC and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and defer to one of those two agencies for recommendations on necessary precautions and updates.

We have been working in step with our colleagues at RDU, NC DHHS and Duke Hospital to ensure that we are staying up-to-date on the patient under investigation. We are also following CDC guidelines and implementing new strategies as they learn more about this novel coronavirus.

We will continue to push the message of prevention and encourage the public to reduce the risk of infection for themselves, their families and their colleagues by doing a few simple things. Those are washing their hands, covering their coughs, avoiding touching their faces and making sure they get an annual flu shot. These are your best defenses against any kind of virus this time of year."

Officials said people who have traveled to Wuhan and develop a fever or respiratory symptoms, like a cough or trouble breathing, within 14 days of leaving the city should contact their doctor right away and call ahead before going to any clinic.

The coronavirus has killed dozens of people and sickened hundreds more in China.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.

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