Officials: New Jersey Poison Control Hotline inundated with calls about coronavirus

Posted: Updated:

New Jersey health officials say that they have been fielding numerous telephone calls from the public about coronavirus concerns.

State officials say that there are not confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Garden State. But U.S. health officials have declared the virus a public health emergency. President Donald Trump has also barred entry of foreign nationals who pose a risk of spreading the illness.

To quell the concern of New Jerseyans, a hotline was set up to provide information about coronavirus.

“As of today, the risk to the public health is still low,” says Dr. Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJPIES). “That’s coming from the CDC, Department of Health, all the experts commenting on this say all this time the risk of the public health is low.

But the call center has received 25%-30% more calls per day since the outbreak in China began. Calello says that this is because the public knows they can get a health care professional on the phone.

RELATED: US, others impose restrictions as virus toll spikes further 
RELATED: Newark to begin screening for coronavirus, US advises against travel to China 

“That’s nurses, pharmacists and doctors. The call is free. There’s no copay, there’s no phone tree. You’ve got a health care professional on the line and right away,” she says.

But Calello says that the public should be more concerned about the flu, as it is still flu season.

“I’m concerned the coronavirus is taking away the concern that people must have about the flu. Flu is a dangerous respiratory virus. It is contagious. It’s vaccine-preventable,” she says.

There are nearly 10,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide – mostly concentrated in China. Several airlines have suspended flights to the country.

There were 195 Americans evacuated from China. They will have to be quarantined for two weeks to make sure they were not infected.

Coronavirus is considered contagious through coughs and sneezes. More information can be found on the NJPIES website.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."