A new case of the novel coronavirus was confirmed by Los Angeles County health officials today, bringing the total number to 14. Meanwhile, the city of Long Beach announced that passengers aboard a cruise ship were being held after someone was taken off the ship for testing.
“This morning, a passenger on CarnivalCruise was transported to a local hospital by LBFD,” the city of Long Beach tweeted. “Ship is docked at LB Cruise Terminal. In an abundance of caution CDCgov has decided to hold passengers on board until the patient can be evaluated & tested for COVID-19. #COVID19LongBeach.”
The new case involves a resident of L.A. County who recently returned from attending the annual AIPAC Conference in Washington D.C. where a number of people were exposed to the virus, after a person there tested positive for it, public health officials said.
“Public Health is identifying persons who may have had close personal contact with this individual, including any friends, family members or health care professionals, to assess and monitor them for signs and symptoms of illness has begun. All confirmed cases are isolated and close contacts are quarantined for 14 days from last exposure,” a department statement said.
“There are no known public exposure locations related to this case,” they added.
“As we continue to see more cases of COVID-19, it is important that everyone take common sense precautions: stay home when ill, wash hands frequently, and plan ahead for possible social disruptions,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, county director of public health. “Pregnant women, individuals with underlying health conditions, and older people should practice social distancing and avoid being in close contact with others who are ill. By working together, we can try to slow the transmission of novel coronavirus.”
The new case is in addition to two others that were confirmed on Friday in L.A. County - including a second person who worked as a passenger-medical screener at LAX. The other confirmed case involved another traveler who recently visited northern Italy with a group of travelers that included seven others who have been diagnosed with the virus known as COVID-19.
The other cases in L.A. County include:
- Eight people who traveled to Italy
- Two contract employees who were conducting coronavirus medical screenings of arriving passengers at Los Angeles International Airport;
- Two relatives of a person who lives outside the county and was also confirmed with the virus; and
- A traveler from the area of Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. That person, the county's first, has since recovered.
All of the patients are currently in isolation, health officials said. People who were in close contact with the known cases are being interviewed and "as appropriate they too will be subject to quarantine for up to 14 days from their last exposure to a confirmed case.”
So far, all of the confirmed cases in L.A. County have been traced to an exposure source and there have been no known incidents of community transmission, Dr. Ferrer added. The county has also asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to handle an investigation into the LAX screeners who worked at the same quarantine station at the airport.
Ferrer said that while she understands how people might become concerned over the number of cases and how they might protect themselves.
“We are going to reiterate our main messages, which is for the general public, your risk still remains low, although this is the time to start making sure you're practicing what we call good public health hygiene,” Ferrer said. “The primary message for everyone is to stay home when they're sick. The primary message for everyone, children and adults, is even with mild illness to please not circulate in the public, particularly don't go to schools and don't go into work.”
She described “mild symptoms” as having a fever of over 100, along with respiratory symptoms or stomach ailments.
“You can call your doctor, particularly if you're a person with underlying health conditions or you're pregnant, but please don't just go in,” she said. “This is the time for us to make sure our medical professionals are able to treat those people with the most serious illnesses and not to have people with mild illness who actually don't need to see a clinician go into a health-care facility to have their questions answered.”
The virus has also taken its toll on several major events planned for this week in the Los Angeles area. Organizers with the Milken Institute Global Conference announced their event in early May would be rescheduled for July 7-10 at a venue to be announced.
The American Film Institute also postponed its annual Life Achievement Award gala meant to honor singer and actress Julie Andrews for later this summer.
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