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PA issues new guidance for those returning from China in light of coronavirus concerns

Dr. Rachel Levine advises anyone who has returned from China in the last 14 days to (at minimum) self-monitor for fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Health has updated travel guidance for anyone who has returned from traveling to China in the last 14 days in light of the Novel Coronavirus, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced Friday.

“If you arrived in Pennsylvania from mainland China anytime during this outbreak, you are advised to (at minimum) self-monitor for fever, cough and shortness of breath and stay home, avoiding group settings like work and school for 14 days from the time you left China,” Levine said in a press release. “If you have traveled from Hubei Province and returned to the United States after being in China within the past 14 days, you are advised to stay home, avoid contact with others and contact 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258). 

"While the threat from (coronavirus) remains low, it’s important that you take these steps to protect public health.”

There have been 12 confirmed cases in the United States, Levine said, but there are no confirmed cases in Pennsylvania at this time.

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“While we caution Pennsylvanians to avoid all unnecessary travel to and from China at this time, we understand that it cannot all be avoided,” Levine said. “In that case, we are urging Pennsylvanians to be aware of and follow our guidelines to help protect their health and others around them.

"In addition, we encourage everyone to actively protect their health by getting their flu vaccine, washing their hands frequently or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, covering your coughs and sneezes, cleaning commonly touched surfaces and staying home if you are sick.”

Travelers who develop symptoms should avoid contact with others and contact 1-877-PA-HEALTH to discuss their symptoms and recent travel history, the Department of Health says. 

Symptoms of the coronavirus can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.

“We are in constant communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are prepared to respond in the event that someone in Pennsylvania tests positive for coronavirus,” Levine said. “It is important to remember that the most accurate information regarding this outbreak is available through our website, health.pa.gov, and our Facebook and Twitter, as well as the CDC’s website and social media channels.”

For information and updates related to novel coronavirus, visit the Department of Health website at www.health.pa.gov or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.