MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Twenty people in Shelby County are being monitored by the health department in the fight against coronavirus. While there are no confirmed cases of the illness in Tennessee, Mississippi or Arkansas, health officials are upping their prevention protocols to keep the virus from reaching the Mid-South.
The Shelby County Health Department says those being monitored are Shelby County residents who reported recently traveling back from China. Right now, however, those individuals are not considered suspect or under investigation.
New reports say the coronavirus has sickened more than 42,000 people in China. Tuesday it was given its official name: COVID-19, by The World Health Organization.
But as new cases of the deadly virus continue to develop, state and local health departments are working alongside the Centers for Disease Control to prevent the spread at home.
“We are really taking significant precautions to make sure we don’t have coronavirus in our community and it doesn’t spread,” said Dr. Alisa Haushalter, Director of the Shelby County Health Department.
Similar to what's done with the flu, the Shelby County Health Department is currently conducting syndromic surveillance.
The department is monitoring emergency room visits of anyone who reports cold-like or flu-like symptoms after recent travels to China.
“Most people at the current time are being monitored locally and those are individuals who will stay in their home,” said Dr. Haushalter.
Right now, the health department is currently monitoring 20 Shelby County residents. Over a two week period, those individuals have been asked to restrict their movement with self-monitoring and public health supervision. Currently, none are showing symptoms of the virus.
“If they develop any of the signs and symptoms, which are really cold-like or flu-like symptoms cough those kind of things, they should contact their health care provider immediately,” she said.
Memphis area hospitals tell us they are following screening guidelines set by the CDC.
Screening questions are being given to patients who come in with flu-like symptoms to determine if they could have been exposed to coronavirus.
At this time, there are no cases of the coronavirus in Tennessee, Arkansas or Mississippi.
Health officials stress you have a much higher chance of getting the flu over the coronavirus. Flu shots are still available.