ST. PAUL — Two passengers who were exposed to a person with coronavirus while traveling in Europe have been instructed to self-quarantine upon their return to Minnesota, the state Department of Health announced Wednesday, March 4.
Health officials in a news release said the passengers came through the Centers for Disease Control's Minneapolis-St. Paul quarantine station Tuesday, March 3, after they'd been in close contact with a person confirmed to have coronavirus. Medical experts examined the passengers on the plane and determined they didn't have symptoms of COVID-19, which is the illness caused by the virus.
365体育投注Because they didn't exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, they weren't tested for the illness and were instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of the virus, Dr. Rich Danila said. Danila focuses on emerging infections at the Department of Health.
365体育投注Danila didn't say which country the pair had visited in Europe but indicated that cases of COVID-19 were increasing there.
365体育投注"Because they were known contacts to a known COVID-19 (case) they are in voluntary quarantine for 14 days," he told reporters on a daily update call Wednesday. "It wouldn't be much different than if we were in Seattle right now ... if you had known contact with a known case, not just casual contact but prolonged contact, that's what would happen to you in Washington state and that's what's happening here. It's just a little unusual that the contact occurred over in Europe."
365体育投注The two passengers were able to board a plane from Europe, Danila said, but the third individual that displayed symptoms and later tested positive for COVID-19 was not. The infected person was also set to travel to Minnesota.
Department officials said the passengers exposed to the virus will be further tested if they develop symptoms. Other passengers on their flight would then be notified by health officials if additional tests for the virus came back positive.
"If they do develop symptoms, certainly we would test immediately," Danila said.
Test requests surge
Department of Health officials on Tuesday it had kits on-hand to test 800 patients for the virus and are no longer dependent on the CDC for diagnosis of probable cases. Before this week, all testing had to be sent to CDC headquarters in Atlanta, which could only conduct 400 tests a day for the entire U.S. and faced a backlog.
365体育投注And department officials have seen an influx of calls from doctors around the state with patients whose symptoms match those present in cases COVID-19 after the department put out a health alert notifying hospitals, emergency rooms, clinics and others that they would start running tests in the state. As of Wednesday, 90 physicians had called the department to ask whether they should submit samples to be tested. As of Wednesday, 13 tests had been submitted and came out negative while eight others were pending.
Danila said state health officials were weighing potential cases to test on a case-by-case basis.
365体育投注State health officials, Gov. Tim Walz and state lawmakers have held several public updates on the coronavirus and the state's plans to respond and attempt to contain the virus in recent weeks. And legislators on Wednesday weighed proposals to set aside state funds to aid COVID-19 containment and treatment efforts. Lawmakers said they'd wait for a more clear price tag from state health officials before advancing the plans.
"This obviously has to be a plan that takes us through until the Legislature reconvenes next January," Rep. Tina Liebling, D-Rochester, said.
Health officials recommended that Minnesotans frequently and thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water, cover coughs and sneezes with a sleeve or tissue rather than a hand, stay home when they feel sick and seek additional information from the state department of health and the CDC about the virus.
Danila also advised Minnesotans to stock up on essential items in the event a family member becomes sick and advised those with families to set plans ahead of possibly becoming ill.
"Get prepared," he said. "Because we do think it's inevitable that we will be in the middle of a very widespread outbreak in Minnesota as well as the rest of the United States."