The California Department of Public Health announced Thursday that 16 laboratories, including the state’s Viral and Rickettsial Disease Laboratory in Richmond, will soon be able to perform testing for the novel coronavirus. This service will provide more rapid results than currently available and help to inform public health action and medical care for people who may have been exposed to novel coronavirus. Results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently take between two to seven days. The Public Health Department lab anticipates it will be able to conduct testing beginning Wednesday, and report results within two days of specimen receipt. Meanwhile, local partners are also expected to be able to conduct tests within a couple of weeks.
“The California Department of Public Health laboratory is proud to be a part of this statewide network to provide novel coronavirus testing. This will support state and local public health departments and health care providers that are working to protect the health of the people of California,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, California Department of Public Health Director and State Health Officer. “Providing this test in California will deliver more rapid test results to improve care of persons who may be sick with this new virus.”
To date, based on testing carried out by the CDC, the California Department of Public Health confirms six individuals have tested positive for novel coronavirus 2019 in California: two people in Santa Clara County, two people in San Benito County, one person in Los Angeles County and one person in Orange County.
Currently, the immediate health risk from novel coronavirus 2019 to the general public is low. California is carefully assessing the situation as it evolves.
The California Department of Public Health considers this a very important public health event and we are providing updates to partners across the state to support their preparedness efforts.
It is very important that people who have recently traveled and who become ill to notify their health care provider of their travel history. Those who have recently traveled to China or who have had contact with a person with possible novel coronavirus infection should contact their local health department or health care provider.
The California Department of Public Health has been prepared and is continuing with the following actions:
· Providing information about the outbreak and how to report suspect cases to local health departments and health care providers in California.
· Coordinating with CDC personnel who are doing screening of travelers from China at SFO and LAX.
· Assuring that health care providers know how to safely manage persons with possible novel coronavirus 2019 infection.
· Activating the Department of Public Health’s Emergency Operations Center to coordinate response efforts across the state.
As with any virus, especially during the flu season, health officials encourage a number of steps you can take to protect your health and those around you:
· Washing hands with soap and water.
· Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
· Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
· Staying away from work, school or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.