TEMPE (3TV/CBS 5) -- Arizona health officials confirmed on Sunday that a Maricopa County resident has been diagnosed with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
According to the Department of Health Services, the confirmed case is in a person who recently returned from travel to Wuhan, China. The patient is a member of the Arizona State University community but does not live in university housing.
"I was scared actually to go to the library today," said ASU Sophomore Nouran Alghamdi.
In an evening statement, an ASU spokesperson confirmed the person lives in Tempe.
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"We will continue to communicate with the ASU community as we learn more about 2019-nCoV and our current exposures. If you have recently traveled to Wuhan, China and have developed fever with cough or shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel, or have had contact with someone who is suspected to have 2019 Novel Coronavirus, stay home and contact ASU Health Services at 480-965-3349."
"They were well aware of what was going on in China, so when they started to develop respiratory symptoms, that’s when they reached out to their health care provider," said Dr. Cara Christ, the Director of ADHS.
State health officials said the person, who has not been identified, is not severely ill and is currently being kept in isolation to keep the virus from spreading. MCDPH and ADHS are currently investigating to identify any persons that may have been exposed while the person was infected. Anyone who may have had contact, or identified as having been exposed, will be contacted directly, officials said.
“While the immediate risk of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus to the general public is believed to be low at this time, ADHS and our county public health partners will continue to actively monitor for the disease,” said Dr. Cara Christ, ADHS director. “There are simple daily precautions that everyone should always take to prevent the spread of diseases.”
The virus spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Officials say symptoms can appear within two to 14 days after exposure and consist of fever, cough, runny nose, and difficulty breathing. Currently, no commercial testing is available and there is no vaccine.
A spokeswoman for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport says they are aware of the confirmed coronavirus case in Maricopa County. "Public Health officials have not requested any specific changes to Phoenix Sky Harbor’s standard health and safety protocols related to it," the spokeswoman said, pointing out that there are no direct flights from China coming into Phoenix. She went on to explain the protocol that's in place. "If a patient arrives in Phoenix with symptoms of the coronavirus, the Phoenix Fire Department would provide the initial response and then it would contact public health officials. The Airport would also work with health officials as needed."
"I was pretty surprised because I thought it was only in China it was happening," said ASU Freshman Sophia Spagnoli. "To hear it’s now in the U.S., spreading, is definitely concerning."
On Monday, ASU released a new statement to the community and media members:
"We have received many inquiries about university operations in light of this case. The university remains open and classes are not cancelled," said Mark Searle, Executive Vice President and University Provost. "We are following the health protocols prescribed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and reinforced by state and county health officials."