Possible coronavirus case investigated in southwest Virginia

Local News

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (pink) cultured in the lab. Credit: NIAID-RML

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The Virginia Department of Health confirmed it is investigating a possible case of coronavirus in southwest Virginia.

The health department did not specify in which city or county the investigation was taking place. Another possible case is under investigation in Northern Virginia.

A total of six cases have been investigated across Virginia in recent months, though all have tested negative for coronavirus.

Tens of thousands of people have been diagnosed worldwide since the outbreak began in China.

Local hospitals are preparing for the spread of coronavirus. LewisGale Regional Health System told WFXR that its staff was in regular contact with the Virginia Department of Health and other healthcare providers.

“LewisGale Regional Health System uses a ‘First Point of Contact’ admission assessment to screen all patients for signs of active infections (fever, cough, sore throat, etc.) as well as any recent international travel. Additionally, we’ve adopted CDC guidelines for Evaluating and Reporting patients for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). At the same time, our Infection Prevention team is communicating regularly with the Virginia Department of Health, other Regional Healthcare Facilities, and our Corporate partners. And at all LewisGale facilities, we’ve developed and posted signage to aid patients and staff in recognizing potentially infectious individuals.”

Nancy May
Market Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Lewis Gale Regional Health System

Carilion Clinic is also working with authorities “monitor and prepare for any potential COVID-19 patients in our region.”

“Our top priority is the safety of patients, staff and our community. As always, we are working closely with partners in our local health departments, the Virginia Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor and prepare for any potential COVID-19 patients in our region.

Out of an abundance of caution several weeks ago, we proactively enacted enhanced screening procedures system-wide to identify patients who visit our hospitals and clinics with flu-like symptoms. Precautions include but are not limited to:

· A travel questionnaire similar to those used during previous travel-related outbreaks, including specific questions about travel to affected areas by the patient and/or people close to them in the weeks preceding their symptoms

· Face masks for patients who have a fever and/or certain symptoms such as a cough or difficulty breathing

Should a patient screen positive based on the previous criteria, we have set protocols in place to manage care safely and effectively for that patient and staff, all the while keeping local health authorities in the loop.”

Dr. Anthony Baffoe-Bonnie
Medical Director
Carilion Infection Prevention and Control

Counties classified as Southwest Virginia by the Virginia Department of Health include Alleghany, Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, Bland, Botetourt, Buchanan, Campbell, Carroll, Craig, Dickenson, Floyd, Franklin, Giles, Grayson, Henry, Lee, Montgomery, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Pulaski, Roanoke, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe.

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