As New York awaited test results on a quarantined Bellevue Hospital patient who’s the first possible case in the city of the deadly coronavirus, officials reassured the public Saturday that there is no reason to panic.
If test results on the patient — expected as soon as Monday — show he or she is infected, the city is prepared to meet the crisis, officials said.
“If this is a positive case, we will confirm that publicly right away,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday night at a news conference at the hospital.
And “robust measures” will be continued to ensure the virus has not — and does not — spread, said city Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot.
The quarantined patient, whose identity is being kept private by officials, is described as a person under the age 40 who arrived in the city from mainland China on Thursday.
The patient was checked into the hospital Friday night after falling ill with a fever, cough and shortness of breath — telltale signs of the illness — and tested negative for the flu and cold. He or she remains in stable condition.
De Blasio said the patient was traveling alone and wasn’t sharing a living space with anyone else. So the likelihood of their having infected others is low.
“There was no one apparently, at least based on what we know now, who would have been in that kind of close proximity,” the mayor said.
Barbot said the virus is only spread through “droplets,” such as from a cough or sneeze.
“Right now, we feel confident that the most likely way to be infected by the coronavirus is by having extended contact with household contacts and family members that may live together,” she said.
The mayor said he was also pushing to get permission for the city to conduct its own coronavirus testing. Currently, only the CDC has that capability, and test samples must be sent to the centers for testing.
“There is still a lot that we do not know,” de Blasio said. “What we do know causes us a tremendous amount of concern. We will use all measures at our disposal to protect New Yorkers.”
De Blasio said that since the virus could only be passed via “substantial contact” with someone who is infected, New Yorkers should “go about our lives” normally.
“Just be smart,” the mayor said. “Do the basics, like wash your hands.”
He stressed, though, that if someone is displaying symptoms and has travel connections to affected parts of China, they should “see a medical professional immediately.”
This the 12th possible case in New York state. Tests have come back negative for eight of those cases, and three are still pending, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said Saturday.
The possible New York City case comes after the eighth US case was identified in Massachusetts late Friday.