NHC identifies first case of community transmission of COVID-19

NHC identifies first case of community transmission of COVID-19

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - A total of ten positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported to New Hanover County Public Health, including the county’s first case of community transmission.

According to county public health officials, a case reported Monday was likely contracted by community transmission because of the person’s lack of travel history or known exposure.

This means the individual became symptomatic in New Hanover County, and Public Health cannot identify a direct link to the virus.

Health officials said the individual reported having allergy-like symptoms beginning March 14 but did not self-isolate. They went to the doctor on March 19 and were tested for COVID-19 at that time.

“This is our first known case of community transmission in New Hanover County, and that is why the measures we’re taking and the guidance that has been given are more important to follow now than ever,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “It’s so important for every single person to practice social distancing, and for all of us to do our part to protect those at risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Stay home, keep your distance from others, and wash your hands well and often. If you are sick, do not leave your home, call your doctor, and stay away from others – including people living in your house. The actions we take today will help prevent community transmission of the virus and help ensure our healthcare system isn’t overburdened in the weeks to come.”

The individual has been self-isolated at home since being tested and are doing well. New Hanover County Public Health is working on contact tracing to determine those who were in close contact with this individual while they were symptomatic.

“What we are seeing right now is that most people who get COVID-19 and don’t have any risk factors are typically displaying more mild symptoms – just like this first case of community transmission – that can be treated at home, and should be monitored closely for any changes that might indicate symptoms are becoming more severe, such as shortness of breath,” said Public Health Preparedness Coordinator Lisa Brown. “But people who are 65 or older, or with underlying health conditions, should call their doctor right away if they have any symptoms because they are at greater risk of serious illness. It’s so important to understand that just because it doesn’t feel that bad to you, it could be very serious to someone else. The virus spreads very easily, so social distancing, frequent hand washing, staying home and away from others if you have symptoms, sanitation of high-touch surfaces and all of the protective measures we’ve been sharing remain very important to slowing the spread of COVID-19 to others.”

Public Health officials have determined the new case reported Tuesday is related to out-of-state travel and the person is in isolation.

To date, the ten confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County are between the ages of 20 and 80, and at this time range in mild to moderate symptoms.

New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) recommends that individuals who are experiencing mild symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should immediately self-isolate at home and away from other household members, and call their healthcare providers to receive guidance over the phone or via teleconference.

Testing will no longer be required, and healthcare providers have been instructed to now assume patients with symptoms have COVID-19.

Those currently identified to be at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 include those over 65 and those with underlying health conditions including chronic lung disease, asthma, compromised immune systems and obesity.

Pregnant women should also be monitored since they are known to be at risk of complications for viral illness generally.

If you are experiencing respiratory symptoms such as cough or fever, call your healthcare provider or walk-in clinic.

If you do not have access to a healthcare provider, call the New Hanover County Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800 seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., to speak with a public health nurse to help assess your symptoms and, if needed, connect you with a provider.

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