Los Angeles County public health nurses are closely monitoring all residents who have recently traveled to mainland China, regardless of whether they have any symptoms of the new coronavirus strain, according to the county’s chief health officer.
More than 1,000 people were assigned a public health nurse and asked to self-insulate and not go to work or school for 14 days, Public Health Department Director Barbara Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors on Monday.
“This is an aggressive effort to touch all the people who have come to Los Angeles County,” Ferrer said.
The health department is also approaching employers and schools and asks them to accommodate travelers with flexible permits and the ability to manage tasks from home.
“It’s a very small number of people … but, nevertheless, those people need all our support,” Ferrer said.
Federal directives affecting travelers entered into force on February 2, and notifications about the symptoms to be monitored were published two and a half weeks ago. Ferrer said that any traveler who has any concerns and has not been examined at an airport can call 211 to be assigned a contact from the Department of Public Health.
Supervisor Hilda Solís said she was worried about the discrimination and anxiety caused by the pandemic, especially for residents with relatives in China.
“So many fears have been cultivated based on racial profiling,” said Solis.
The coronavirus, now called COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, was first identified by the Chinese government on December 31, when authorities indicated that an unknown pneumonia variant was affecting Wuhan residents in the province from Hubei.
Worldwide, more than 43,000 people have contracted the virus, and 1,018 people, two of them outside of mainland China, have died as a result.
“The numbers are amazing,” Ferrer said, but emphasized that the total number of patients remains low in the United States, with 13 confirmed cases across the country. Of these, seven are in California, including one in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.
All but two of the 13 cases of EE. UU. They are people who traveled to China. The others are spouses of travelers. Less than 1% of confirmed cases worldwide are outside of China.
Ferrer said the county’s public health workers are coordinating “multiple calls every day with our federal and state partners,” including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Defense.
He acknowledged that there are likely to be additional cases, given the continuing journey from China. Ferrer also noted that most deaths from COVID-19, as with the flu, are related to an underlying health condition. In China, an additional problem seems to be that people have trouble accessing care, he said, although China’s information is limited and the government there has rejected the help of the CDC.
“In Hubei province, they are overwhelmed with sick people,” Ferrer said.
Foreigners who have recently traveled to China can no longer enter the United States. US citizens and their families traveling from China can only enter the country through one of 11 airports throughout the country, including Los Angeles International Airport, where they are selected in one of three groups.
Those with symptoms of respiratory illness or fever, a very small number, according to Ferrer, are transported to a medical center for further screening and testing.
Those who have been in Hubei Province, where Wuhan is, or who have had close contact with another person with the virus are subject to mandatory quarantine at one of four US military bases, including the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside and the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. in San Diego
A group of 195 people arrested in March were released from a 14-day quarantine on Tuesday morning. None had tested positive for the virus. Base officials said two other travelers who passed through LAX and were taken to the base separately from the original group remain in quarantine.
US citizens traveling from anywhere else in China who have not had close contact with the virus and show no symptoms can continue to their final destination, where they are actively monitored by local health departments and are told to stay away from the general public.
Airlines around the world continue to limit flights to China. American Airlines has extended cancellations to mainland China and Hong Kong until at least April 23. Two cruises in Asia with more than 5,000 people on board are trapped in the sea. In one, 135 passengers tested positive for COVID-19 and are in quarantine on board. In the other vessel, no cases of the virus have been confirmed, but the ship has been denied entry to ports in Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines.
The Board of Supervisors has requested a weekly update on the virus.