PHILADELPHIA–The City of Philadelphia is taking additional actions in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus situation in Philadelphia. The Health Department reiterated that there are no confirmed cases of 2019 novel coronavirus in Philadelphia, and the current risk to the average Philadelphian remains extremely low.
Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said, “although we have not seen this virus in Philadelphia, we are taking the risk seriously and doing everything we can to protect our residents from it.”
The federal government has taken many steps to respond to 2019 novel coronavirus as the number of cases around the globe continue to climb. U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar declared the disease to be a public health emergency on January 31, 2020. The U.S. Department of State issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory on February 2, 2020, advising no U.S. citizens travel to China. And airports across the country have instituted special screening measures to identify potential cases of the disease.
On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance on how health departments should respond to 2019 novel coronavirus. This guidance allows local public health departments to monitor or ensure self-monitoring for the development of symptoms of asymptomatic people who may have been exposed to 2019 novel coronavirus. The guidance also recommends the application of movement restrictions, including isolation and quarantine, when needed to prevent the possible spread of 2019 novel coronavirus.
The Health Department has been and continues to work daily with state and federal officials to implement the federal directives to contain 2019 novel coronavirus. Some of the actions being taken by the Department are:
- Updating and distributing guidance to local healthcare providers around screening and treating people with suspected 2019 novel coronavirus infection.
- Developing and distributing infection control recommendations for persons involved in transport or care of suspected cases.
- Facilitating and tracking laboratory testing of persons who meet the definition of a suspected case of 2019 novel coronavirus.
- Assisting in isolation of persons suspected of having 2019 novel coronavirus until results of testing are known.
- Providing accurate information to community residents through multi-lingual communications using phone, print, radio, internet, and social media outlets for communication.
- Establishing protocols for monitoring the health of U.S. citizens and their family members returning from China who arrive in Philadelphia and need to remain in their homes for up to 14 days; this includes making sure they receive appropriate services and testing should they become ill within 14 days of last exposure.
- Working with schools, colleges and universities to ensure compliance with new guidance from CDC that excludes newly arriving travelers from China from public settings, including schools, for 14 days from their last exposure.
- Working with other city agencies to ensure effective communication and coordination in the event that 2019 novel coronavirus cases occur in Philadelphia.