Brazos County investigating possible case of coronavirus in Texas A&M student

State & Regional

A box of masks imported from Japan sits inside a Yifeng Pharmacy in Wuhan, China, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. Pharmacies in Wuhan are restricting customers to buying one mask at a time amid high demand and worries over an outbreak of a new coronavirus. The number of cases of the new virus has risen to over 400 in China and the death toll to 9, Chinese health authorities said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)

WACO, Texas (KWKT/KXAN) — The Brazos County Health District announced Thursday it’s investigating a possible case of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus involving a student at Texas A&M University.

The patient recently traveled from Wuhan, China, which is where the illness has killed at least 17 people and forced a shutdown of the entire city.

The district said health care providers were aware of the virus and quickly recognized the symptoms in the patient. That person is being kept isolated at home while more testing is done.

According to Dr. Eric Wilke, the Brazos County health authority, the patient went to the hospital on Wednesday due to mild upper respiratory symptoms, and he was improving in condition before evaluation even began.

During a Thursday briefing, Dr. Wilke explained and reiterated that further steps and concerns hinge upon confirmation of the case.

Wilke said samples are currently on their way to be tested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Results will likely come back at Saturday at the earliest and Monday at the latest.

He said the patient’s treatment wouldn’t change if the case is confirmed but positive confirmation would then lead to contact tracing and that anyone he may have come into contact with would be monitored.

“We’re running on the assumption that he attended classes,” Wilke said when asked whether Texas A&M classes were being notified of the possibility of contact with the patient. “We’re taking the conservative approach. I believe A&M was moving forward with all monitoring that needed to be in place.”

The general public is encouraged to practice these preventive actions:

• Everyone 6 months and older is encouraged to get a flu shot.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Wilke said near the end of briefing that risks of further infection are “not one of concern.”

“We live in an international world,” said Wilke. “Viruses don’t typically like to travel borders.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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