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Southfield taking steps to prevent spread of new coronavirus

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published February 19, 2020

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SOUTHFIELD — Although, at press time, there were no confirmed cases of the coronavirus from Wuhan, China, in Michigan, city leaders are still taking precautions to prevent the spread of the disease.

According to the Oakland County Health Division, COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus that was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, in China.

People diagnosed with COVID-19 have reported mild to severe respiratory illness two to 14 days after exposure. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, Oakland County officials said.

County officials said health experts are still learning the details about how the virus spreads. Other coronaviruses and respiratory illnesses are spread mainly through respiratory droplets of an infected person through the air when they cough or sneeze. They can also be spread by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose and/or eyes.

Earlier this month, an individual in Oakland County had been under investigation for the virus, but officials announced that they tested negative for the virus. Four additional possible cases were identified in Washtenaw and Wayne counties, which also came back negative for the virus.

At press time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed 15 positive cases for the virus in the U.S., with 60 cases pending.

The virus has reportedly infected more than 71,000 people globally, with a death toll of 1,775 people.

“We are taking some very basic precautions,” City Administrator Fred Zorn said. “They’re more along the lines of what the county health department and the state of Michigan are recommending.”

Zorn said he and his staff have been keeping a close eye on information about the virus and how it is spread.

“Both myself and Deputy (City Administrator John) Michrina have been monitoring the World Health Organization website and different pieces of information coming to us,” Zorn said. “With it being flu season for both influenza A and B, a lot  of these are just good, sensible precautions.”

Zorn said Parks and Recreation Department and Southfield Public Library officials are taking more precautions by wiping down surfaces more often and providing wipes for patrons.

While there is no vaccine or specific treatment for the virus, county officials said medical care is available to help relieve symptoms.

County officials also recommend avoiding being exposed to the virus by taking preventative steps similar to ones for colds and influenza, such as:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw the tissue in the trash.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Avoid close contact, such as kissing, sharing cups, or sharing eating utensils, with people who are sick.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.

“We understand that some people are worried about this virus and how it may impact Americans,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a press conference. “While this situation poses a very serious public health threat, CDC believes that the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low at this time, but the situation continues to evolve rapidly.”

For more information, go to oakgov.com.

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