San Luis Obispo County public health officials were notified Sunday that federal authorities no longer are considering Camp Roberts as a potential site to house more than a dozen American passengers aboard a cruise ship sickened with coronavirus.
County health officials were initially advised to prepare for the possibility of housing passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship infected with coronavirus at the military base for a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, although that has since been canceled, said SLO County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein.
The base was being considered to house the passengers who tested positive for the disease — identified as COVID-19 — but no longer required hospitalization, Borenstein said.
The ship, which has about 3,700 passengers, has been docked in isolation in Yokohama, Japan, since Feb. 5 after a passenger tested positive for coronavirus Feb. 1, according to Dr. Grant Tarling, the chief medical officer for Carnival, which owns the Diamond Princess ship. The isolation ends Feb. 19, Tarling added.
Among the roughly 400 Americans on the ship, at least 14 have tested positive for coronavirus, according to cruise officials.
Calls have been pouring into the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department from residents who are worried about the novel coronavirus that has infected more than 20,000 and killed more than 425 people worldwide.
The respiratory disease first was detected in Wuhan, China, on Dec. 31 and has infected more than 71,000 people worldwide, the vast majority of which are in China, according to World Health Organization officials, who added the disease has killed at least 1,700 people.
To date, there is no widespread transmission of corona virus occurring in the U.S. and no cases have been reported in SLO County, Borenstein said.
The risk to residents in San Luis Obispo county remains low, according to the health officer.
Despite the low risk, public health officials are asking residents to take daily preventative measures to help decrease the spread of the flu, which has symptoms similar to coronavirus, Borenstein said.
Such measures include washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use a alcohol-based hand sanitizer; avoid touching nose, eyes, hands and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick; staying home when sick; covering coughs and sneezes; frequently disinfecting touched objects and surfaces; and getting a flu shot.
Other measures include avoiding nonessential travel to China for the time being, Borenstein said, adding that anyone who traveled to China in the last 14 days and feels sick with a fever, cough or difficulty breathing should seek medical care right away.
Those seeking medical care should call ahead to inform staff of their symptoms and recent travel, she added.
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