COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The new strain of the coronavirus is now considered a Class A immediately reportable disease in Ohio.
Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), made the declaration on Friday.
“We are doing an epidemiological investigation, basically doing the detective work,” she said.
The classification means any confirmed or suspected cases must be reported to local health districts right away.
“If you are a person who’s traveled in the Wuhan region or been at all exposed to someone who has this virus, then we would want to know,” Acton said.
There are now more than 1,200 reported cases of coronavirus in China, with it tied to 41 deaths.
No cases have been reported in Ohio.
Two cases have been reported in the United States, one in Washington state and one in Chicago. Both patients had recently been in Wuhan, China, where the disease originated.
Both of those patients are in stable condition.
Some symptoms of the coronavirus are difficulty breathing, coughing, or fever. Those are symptoms similar to common viruses this time of year.
Acton said if you have those symptoms, unless you’ve been in Wuhan recently or around someone who has the new coronavirus, it’s more likely you have something else.
“Stay tuned, we’ll learn more about this,” Acton said. “But I feel that people are very safe right now if they’re taking the regular precautions of fighting infection by basic hygiene.”
She is urging people to wash their hands, especially if they’ve been traveling, and properly cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing.
The ODH is watching the coronavirus very closely.
Acton is reminding people there is still a much higher chance of getting the flu, so it’s not too late to get a flu shot.
“Statistically, you’re much more likely to get the flu,” Acton said. “But we’ll be watching and I want people to know there’s a whole group of people out here protecting Ohio from these diseases.”