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Oklahoma tests negative for coronavirus, OU remains cautious

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Oklahoma State Department of Health

Oklahoma State Department of Health Commissioner Gary Cox

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has received confirmation that two people in Oklahoma who were believed to potentially have coronavirus tested negative.

This version of the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) originated in Wuhan, China, but there have been cases of the coronavirus detected in several countries, including 11 confirmed cases in the US. 

There are no other people in the state that meet the established criteria for testing, according to an Oklahoma State Department of Health press release.

Oklahoma State Department of Health Commissioner Gary Cox said in the release that the risk of contracting the coronavirus is low for the general public. But Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) officials will remain in contact with local, state and federal partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

In the event of more suspected cases in Oklahoma, public health officials will work with county health departments, health care providers and hospitals to arrange for testing with the CDC, according to the release. 

“We appreciate the work of the OSDH Acute Disease Service and the CDC for working quickly to confirm there are no cases of the Novel Coronavirus in our state,” Cox said in the release. “The public should be assured that OSDH will continue monitoring and engaging the multidisciplinary coordinated response team which is formulating response plans as the situation evolves and stands ready to protect Oklahomans.”

Common symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the release. Primary factors of concern for the disease are travel history to affected areas, and close contact with either a laboratory-confirmed patient or a patient under investigation for the illness. 

According to the release, the CDC advises that the public avoid non-essential travel to China, and that those who do travel to China take health precautions, like washing their hands regularly. 

According to an email from OU’s Office of the President sent Friday, interim president Joseph Harroz said that, in response to travel advisories released by the U.S. Department of State and the CDC, OU will implement travel guidelines and restrictions to China. 

The OU Health Sciences Center, the OU-Tulsa campus and the Norman campus have all suspended student, staff and faculty travel to China for university business or academic purposes, according to the email. Travel for personal reasons is strongly discouraged. 

The Norman campus strongly discourages travel to China by students, faculty and staff for any reason. 

Individuals traveling to China that aren’t suspended from doing so are required to communicate with their college dean or administrative vice president and the provost’s office before making travel plans, according to the email. 

Faculty, staff and students who traveled to or from China during January are required to contact OU Health Services or OU Health Sciences Center Employee Health to arrange for a telephone medical screening.

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