New York health authorities said around 700 people are being monitored for potential COVID-19 coronavirus symptoms and have been asked to self-quarantine after they traveled to areas affected by the outbreak in China.
All 700 of the travelers agreed to partake in the 14-day self-isolation period after returning from China since Feb. 3, when stricter federal controls were implemented at U.S. airports, said Jill Montag, a spokesperson for the New York State Department of Health, according to The Independent. None of the individuals have displayed symptoms associated with the illness.
“Voluntary self-isolation will help limit the potential spread of this virus,” Montag said. Travelers who are under a voluntary quarantine are being monitored by health officials, who deliver their food and monitor them for possible symptoms such as respiratory issues, coughing, or a fever.
Westchester County, located near New York City, said last week that it is monitoring 26 travelers on voluntary quarantine, mostly in their homes, according to officials. Rockland County said it had two people under quarantine, adding that three more completed their 14-day self-isolation period, reported USA Today. So far, no coronavirus cases have been confirmed in New York state.
Most of the 700 travelers were described as “medium risk” based on guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because they traveled from mainland China outside of Hubei Province, which has been the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, officials told USA Today. Montag said the number of people who are under voluntary self-isolation is changing on a regular basis because people have completed the 14-day period.
Washington state, Oregon, and Michigan have confirmed that health officials are monitoring hundreds of at-risk individuals who may have been exposed to the virus inside China.
The CDC, meanwhile, has called on schools and businesses to prepare for the worst because the virus will likely begin spreading inside the United States.
“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen in this country any more but a question of when this will happen,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunisation and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters. “We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad,” she said, adding that “disruption to everyday life might be severe.”