Health officials: New Jersey patient tested negative for coronavirus

Posted: Updated:

State health officials said a patient suspected of having the new coronavirus tested negative Tuesday.

A day earlier, the New Jersey Department of Health said it was investigating a possible case of coronavirus. The state Department of Health said in a statement, “CDC test results came back negative for the person in New Jersey who was under investigation for novel coronavirus. There is no other person in New Jersey under investigation at this time.”

RELATED: New Jersey health officials investigate possible coronavirus infection 

New Jersey health officials say that they are prepared for the possibility of the virus coming to the Garden State. New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli has issued guidelines for identifying and evaluating patients who could potentially have the illness to hospitals around the state. A patient just last week in Bergen County who was thought to have the disease was not infected.

A strain of coronavirus that originated in China has caused dozens of deaths and sickened thousands, mostly in China.  In China, 24 new deaths have been confirmed, bringing the number of people killed there to 106. The number of infected people also increased to more than 4,500 cases, including five in the U.S.

RELATED: China reports 25 more virus deaths as US prepares evacuation 
RELATED: Officials: New Jersey is prepared for a potential coronavirus outbreak 

Chinese officials are trying to quell the outbreak. The country has cut transportation in several cities in Hubei province and is requiring some travelers to quarantine themselves. France, Japan and the United States are trying to arrange charter flights to help citizens leave Wuhan - the city where the outbreak began last month.

Chinese health officials say people can spread the virus before showing symptoms. U.S. officials aren't sure if that's true, but it presents a major challenge if it is.

"I'm fairly certain that as the day goes by, you will see an even greater and sharper increase in the number of cases, which will be accompanied by an increase in the number of deaths,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, with the National Institute of Allery, Infectious Diseases. “So, we are in an involving situation there, and we have to sustain transmission from person to person. That has to be interrupted, or this could be more out of control than it already is."

At least five airports in the United States are testing passengers who have come from China to make sure that they do not have the disease, including JFK in New York. The Washington Post says the CDC is looking at boosting staffing at 20 airports with quarantine stations. Those haven't been named, but Newark Liberty International Airport does have a quarantine facility. Expanded screenings are expected to start in the next few days.

Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez last week asked screening to begin at the airport. In a new letter co-signed with 27 other senators, they're asking the U.S. Department of Health to provide more information on the virus, in addition to how many passengers have been screened and if there are any changes in airport screening procedures.

The New Jersey Department of Health has since announced the opening of a hotline (1-800-222-1222) for the public to ask questions about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, and "alleviate fear and dispel rumors.”

The department also urges residents to check its webpage for updated information about the coronavirus.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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