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DHEC investigating two possible cases of coronavirus in South Carolina

ByRay Rivera|March 6, 2020 at 7:24 PM EST - Updated March 6 at 11:13 PM

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced on Friday that it is investigating two possible cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in the state.

According to DHEC, one case is located in Kershaw County and one case is located in Charleston County. DHEC officials said the cases are not linked.

Kershaw County patient

One patient is an elderly adult female from Kershaw County who has been hospitalized and is in isolation.

County officials say they are closely monitoring the situation.

Charleston County patient

The second patient is an adult female from Charleston County who recently traveled to France and Italy and who is an employee with the Medical University of South Carolina.

A statement by MUSC states that the employee did not return to work after visiting Europe. In addition, DHEC said the patient did not require hospitalization and is self-isolated at home.

Hospital officials said they learned from DHEC on Friday night that one of their team members is presumed positive for COVID-19.

According to MUSC, the woman self-identified to DHEC after learning that community transmission had occurred in an area she recently visited during her trip to Europe. Hospital officials say she did not return to work and still has not at this time.

“Our team member practiced excellent public health and social responsibility by pursuing testing, taking appropriate hygienic precautions and self-quarantining at home," MUSC officials said.

A statement by the hospital states that the patient had mild illness and has been asymptomatic for the past three days and is committed to remaining in self-quarantine for the remainder of the CDC-recommended 14-day time frame.

“We support our team member’s rights to privacy and protection of health information and will not confirm or deny name, role or any other identifying information. We want to emphasize the informed and calm response this team member took and we want to publicly commend her for doing so,” MUSC officials said.

DHEC continuing to look at both cases

DHEC officials say they are working with Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to identify all those who might have been in contact with the two affected individuals.

Those people will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms, according to health officials.

“We understand that residents have concerns about how the virus may impact South Carolinians,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist. “While the risk to the public remains low, there is no evidence of ongoing transmission in the community at this time and our primary goals remain prevention and control.”

According to health officials, the samples submitted tested positive at DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory.

DHEC authorities said that the results are required to be confirmed by the CDC laboratory and are in the process of being submitted for confirmatory testing.

Test results typically take 24 to 48 hours.

“At this time, DHEC has tested a total of 10 individuals for COVID-19, including the two presumptive positives today," DHEC officials said."The remaining tests are negative. DHEC has the ability to test 80 to 100 patients per day.”

“No additional precautions are recommended for the public at this time, beyond the simple daily precautions that everyone should always take steps to stop the spread of illness, including getting the flu vaccine, washing your hands, covering your cough, and appropriately disposing tissues and other items contaminated with respiratory droplets,” said Dr. Bell.

Governor holding press conference on Saturday

“Healthcare authorities in South Carolina have been preparing for this eventuality and there is no reason for public alarm," Gov. Henry McMaster said."DHEC is working with the CDC on confirmation for these cases. South Carolinians should continue to follow recommendations and information provided by official sources.”

Additionally, McMaster will hold a press conference with state public health officials on Saturday at 10 a.m.

DHEC officials say they are taking proactive steps to be prepared to protect the health of South Carolina’s communities, including informing healthcare providers throughout the state of recommendations for testing, the availability for testing and the appropriate precautions for the general public.

“We have developed strong relationships with health providers through the years,” said Dr. Bell. “Together, we have planned, prepared, and tested our ability to respond to public health events like this.”

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as pneumonia.

VIDEO: DHEC investigating two possible cases of novel coronavirus in South Carolina

Copyright 2020 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Photo: Live 5 News

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