Chatham County man tests positive for coronavirus after visiting Italy, is second confirmed case in North Carolina

Saturday, March 7, 2020
Chatham Co. man tests positive for coronavirus after Italy visit
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Chatham Co. man tests positive for coronavirus after Italy visit

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A second North Carolina person, unrelated to the first case, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to the North Carolina health department.

RELATED: Death toll rises to 12 as health officials scramble to make more tests available

The test, conducted by the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health, is presumptively positive and will be confirmed by the CDC lab.

State officials said 19 have been tested for the coronavirus in North Carolina.

The Chatham County man traveled in late February to an area in Italy that now has a COVID-19 outbreak. He had two days of mild, flu-like symptoms while in Italy.

His fever resolved and symptoms were improving, and he flew back to the United States the following day. He was a contact to a case in Georgia and the Georgia Department of Health notified North Carolina health officials.

The man is doing well and is in isolation at home.

Chatham County Public Health Department officials conducted a home visit and collected specimens, which came back presumptively positive Thursday night.

The health department said the patient has been cooperative and is in home isolation until follow-up tests are negative.

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Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, State Health Director and the Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Health and Human Services, said the risk of infection is moderate to low for most people who may have been around the infected patient.

"What is considered at risk in terms of contact is very close household, very close household contacts, they are considered high risk," Cuervo Tilson said Friday. "People who had sustained and close proximity contact with this person, so less than 6 feet away for more than 10 to 20 minutes, that's considered moderate risk. If you are just walking through a public setting, you're walking through the airport, you're walking through the grocery store, you're walking through the library and by this person, that is not considered risk."

COVID-19 is currently not widespread in North Carolina but this comes as more safety measures are being put in place.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport is adding more than 100 hand sanitizing stations at terminals to ease passenger worries about the novel coronavirus.

The airport will also clean surfaces touched by passengers such as railings and doorknobs.

The BrickUniverse Raleigh LEGO Fan Convention scheduled for the Raleigh Convention Center on Saturday and Sunday is on as scheduled with some additional precautions. Some attractions won't have as many touchable elements, staff won't use hand stamps and will have extra hand sanitizer. The Wake County Health Department recommended the event go on with the changes.

On Thursday, a pastor confirmed the Wake County coronavirus patient is a member of Christ the King Lutheran Church.

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