Lawrence patient tests negative for coronavirus, health officials confirm

photo by: Chris Conde

THe LMH Health hospital is pictured in a file photo from October 2018.

Story updated at 5:50 p.m. Saturday:

A patient at LMH Health who was being tested for coronavirus has turned out not to have the disease, state health officials said Saturday afternoon.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment received the negative test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday, the state agency said in a news release.

“We are pleased that test results were negative and that the patient remains in good health. He had been released from LMH Health and was in a monitored, isolated living space following CDC guidelines,” KDHE Secretary Lee Norman said in the release. “He will now be able to resume his normal routine, and there is no risk to the public.”

On Tuesday, LMH Health spokeswoman Amy Northrop said the patient came to the Lawrence hospital with symptoms of a respiratory illness. She said the patient had recently traveled to Wuhan, China, where the first case of the respiratory disease was identified. The KDHE reported Tuesday that the patient is a Douglas County resident.

The patient, who was described as “not severely ill,” was put in an isolation room specifically designed for disease prevention, Northrop said Tuesday.

“Local, state and federal public health partners plan, prepare and drill for these types of events,” Dr. Farah Ahmed, KDHE state epidemiologist, said in the agency’s release. “Our healthcare and public health infrastructure works hard every day to protect the public from infectious and contagious diseases, and we learn from these responses so we can continue to improve.”

Chinese health officials had confirmed more than 11,000 coronavirus infections in China and more than 250 deaths as of Saturday afternoon, The Associated Press reported. Infections have also been reported in more than two dozen other countries, most of them associated with travel from Wuhan. The U.S. reported the first confirmed instance of person-to-person spread of the virus on Thursday.

Eight cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in five states: Washington, California, Arizona, Illinois and Massachusetts. The most recent confirmed case, in Boston, was announced Saturday, according to the Associated Press. CDC has tested about 250 cases in the U.S., with about half of those tests being negative and the other half with results still pending, according to the CDC’s website.

Both the World Health Organization and the U.S. government declared the coronavirus an emergency earlier this week, and on Friday the U.S. government announced that those returning to the U.S. from the affected area of China must undergo 14 days of mandatory quarantine, according to national media reports. On Saturday, the Pentagon approved a request from the Department of Health and Human Services for the possible use of military bases to accommodate people who are under quarantine.

The U.S. State Department has warned Americans not to travel to China, issuing its highest advisory against travel to the country.

The CDC states the complete clinical picture regarding the infection is still not clear. Reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The CDC believes at this time that symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure.

In its release, the KDHE urged anyone who has recently traveled to Hubei Province in central China and developed a fever or respiratory symptoms within 14 days to stay home and call their health care provider.

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