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Coronavirus has local health officials on guard after patient isolated in Porter County
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Coronavirus has local health officials on guard after patient isolated in Porter County

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China Outbreak

Medical workers in protective gear talk with a woman suspected of being ill with a coronavirus at a community health station Monday in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province. Northwest Indiana health officials said an unidentified person — traveling through Porter County tested negative for the coronavirus.

Northwest Indiana public health officials and providers are gearing up for more potential cases of the Wuhan coronavirus infection.

Area health officials placed an unidentified person — traveling through Porter County — in isolation.

The Porter County Health Department said on its website Tuesday that the person was being tested.

A spokeswoman for the Indiana State Department of Health said Wednesday afternoon it is working closely with Porter County, but it can’t discuss any specific patient because of privacy laws.

"Final diagnosis awaits the results of laboratory tests to be performed by the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Out of an abundance of caution, the individual has been placed in isolation and is currently under active medical supervision," the state health department reported.

Nick Doffin, Lake County Health Department administrator, and Tony Mancuso, LaPorte County Health Department administrator, said Wednesday there is no indication of anyone in their counties affected by the virus.

"It's too early yet," Mancuso said. "Our nurse is on a conference call with the state about it. We are preparing in case something happens."

Doffin said if a case were to occur in Lake County, his staff would be part of an epidemiology investigation.

"We would have the person affected provide us with all those with whom they have come in contact, and then we would contact them to find out if they are symptomatic. The idea is to isolate it," he said.

Robert Blaszkiewicz, communications and media relations specialist for Franciscan Health, which has hospitals and health centers in Crown Point, Brook, Dyer, Hammond, Michigan City and Valparaiso, said they are prepared for any cases.

"In response to the outbreak of coronavirus in China and increasing confirmed cases in the United States, Franciscan Health physicians, nurses and other clinicians have taken proactive measures should we receive patients suspected of having contracted the virus," Blaszkiewicz said.

"Stringent measures have been taken to monitor and screen patients who might have recently traveled outside of the country and potentially were exposed to the recently discovered virus. Infection control teams at Franciscan Health hospitals have implemented procedures with staff and have the necessary equipment to care for any patient with this illness or any other flu strains. This includes having protective barriers and isolation areas to protect staff and others from airborne exposure to the coronavirus."

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