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Potential Erie County coronavirus samples being tested in Albany

The individuals from Erie County who have been tested for the novel coronavirus are having their samples sent to Albany for testing, Erie County officials said today.

These individuals recently traveled to a high-risk region in northern Italy where there is widespread community transmission of this new coronavirus, according to the Erie County Department of Health.

Two families from the Buffalo area who recently traveled from Italy – a total of 12 individuals, six of whom have symptoms of the virus – are quarantined in their homes as they are being tested for possible coronavirus infections, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced this morning.

Erie County Health Department officials would not say how many of those people were tested.

Throat swab or nasal swab samples were collected from them, per current CDC guidelines, Erie County Department of Health spokesperson Kara Kane said. If an individual has a productive enough cough to produce a sputum sample, she said that can be taken as well.

Testing samples are being delivered to the New York State Department of Health's Wadsworth Center in Albany today, Kane said.

Kane said that testing for novel coronavirus, which can cause the disease known as COVID-19, cannot simply be ordered by a doctor.

"That needs to be coordinated through our department," she said.

There are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Erie County, Kane said.

County officials advised residents to contact medical providers immediately if they have traveled internationally within the past 14 days to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea or Japan and have symptoms of the coronavirus, including feel sick with fever, a cough or trouble breathing.

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The Department of Health advises that those people:

  • Seek medical care right away. Call ahead and tell them about your travel and symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others. Stay home, except for seeking medical care.
  • Avoid further travel until the illness resolves.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If you cannot do that, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

The Erie County Department of Health has information on the coronavirus posted at its website.

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