The patient is a man in his 60s who has been hospitalized in Cherry Hill and is in stable condition. County health officials say the general public should practice good hygiene and that risk remains low.
By Matt Skoufalos | March 6, 2020
Camden County is believed to have sustained its first case of novel coronavirus (COVIC-19), a man in his 60s, who is currently hospitalized at Jefferson University Hospital in Cherry Hill, and in stable condition.
Confirmation of the diagnosis is pending until the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) Public Health Environmental Laboratories (PHEL) receive confirmation of a sample submitted to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
In a statement, Camden County Health Officer Paschal Nwako said that the news “should not be a cause for panic” and that “the risk to the general public remains low.”
“While we know that any case of coronavirus presents a cause for concern for our residents, we want to emphasize that this case only reemphasizes the need to follow personal hygiene guidelines vigilantly,” Nwako said.
“Our department has been planning and preparing for several weeks for the possibility of a case of coronavirus in Camden County, and residents can rest assured that we are prepared to act swiftly and protect the health of our community.”
Nwako updated these remarks at a press conference Friday evening, adding that health officials “are doing all we can at this time to make sure that the patient is stable and to make sure that the citizens are not in any danger.”
Once infected, there’s not much physicians can do other than treating for accompanying symptoms, he said.
“It’s a virus, and it has to run its course,” Nwako said. “[Physicians are] treating for upper respiratory and GI illnesses.”
Since coronavirus is an evolving virus, anyone who feels ill is advised to contact his or her primary care physicians and follow their guidance.
On Wednesday, NJDOH identified the first presumptive positive case of coronavirus in New Jersey: a 32-year-old Bergen County man.
According to Camden County, that man is being treated at the Hackensack University Medical Center, where he has been quarantined.
More than 100 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed throughout the United States.
In addition to tracking people with whom the Camden County patient has been in contact, county officials are advising the general public to “practice appropriate social distancing, avoiding contact with those who appear visibly ill, and to adhere to recommended personal hygiene practices.”
“Given recent developments in surrounding areas, this does not come as a surprise to our personnel, and we have already put plans in place so that our response can begin immediately,” Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez, liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement.
“At this time, the most important thing for the public to recognize is that the general health risk to the public remains low,” Rodriguez said.
Observing hygienic practices is still the best defense against the virus, for which a vaccine has not yet been developed. That includes the following:
- Wash your hands thoroughly, and often, with soap and water for 20 seconds;
- Stay home when you’re sick;
- Avoid contact with others who are sick;
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue; and
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.
For residents with additional questions about the coronavirus, NJDOH is operating a toll-free call center (1-800-222-1222) and website.
Information regarding Camden County’s preparations, response, and general information provided to the public is available by visiting camdencounty.com.
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