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Richmond Health Officials Say Coronavirus Risk Is Low, But Situation Is Rapidly Evolving

(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Local health officials say they are prepared for a potential outbreak of COVID-19, the new coronavirus.

Richmond City Council was given an update on the virus Monday night from Dr. Danny Avula, director of the Richmond City Health District. Avula said the Virginia Department of Health has tested eight people for the novel coronavirus, but none have tested positive. 

While the threat to the American public remains low, Avula says the state is actively monitoring 126 residents who recently returned from abroad.

“Our staff, the local health department staff, are calling these individuals every day, they’re asking for symptoms, looking at temperature logs and keeping folks in their homes for a 14 day period,” Avula said. 

COVID-19 causes flu-like symptoms, which can be deadly for people with pre-existing medical conditions. In Washington state, six people had died from the virus as of Monday. Most of them were elderly.

It’s recommended that people wash their hands frequently, and avoid touching their faces. 

Officials say the best defense against contracting the virus is frequent hand washing and avoiding touching your face. 

“I think we have crossed a threshold where we are rethinking how we prepare for community transmission,” Avula said. “It’s a real and pending threat to our community.”