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San Diego County health officials expected to learn test results after possible coronavirus infection

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Posted at 12:49 PM, Jan 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-28 21:32:49-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego County health officials are expected to find out Wednesday if a person in the county who recently traveled to China contracted the potentially deadly coronavirus.

Results were originally expected late Tuesday afternoon, but officials said Tuesday at 6 p.m. that no results were received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If test results are positive, it will be the first case in the county and just the sixth in the U.S. Cases of coronavirus have already been confirmed in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

The potential San Diego patient recently traveled to impacted areas of China, according to the County Health and Human Services Agency. The patient went to a hospital where a specimen was collected and sent to the County Public Health Lab for packaging, and then to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing. No details about the patient have been released.

The person with the potential case of the respiratory illness is in isolation at home.

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-- Coronavirus: Everything you need to know

The virus originated in Wuhan, China, and has sickened thousands and led to the deaths of at least 100 people.

Health officials say unless a person has traveled to China or has come into contact with someone who has traveled to the country, his or her risk is low.

Despite that, San Diego-area facilities are taking extra precautions to keep people safe.

UC San Diego officials sent an email to students and staff to inform the community about the coronavirus. It’s a question-and-answer format that lets people know how to protect themselves from the virus and what to do if they start to feel sick.

The school says they are tracking the locations of their international students, but they added none of their students studying abroad are in the high-risk locations in China.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, passengers from a flight from Beijing to Tijuana were screened at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing to check for the virus.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County public health officer, said the county has protocols in place to deal with infectious disease.

"The risk of infection for the general public is minimal," Wooten added. "If you have not traveled to an area where the virus has been detected or had close contact with a patient who tested positive for this type of coronavirus, the risk of infection is very low."

According to the CDC, the symptoms of coronavirus are fever, cough and a shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. The incubation period is hard to pin down, with health officials saying symptoms can show up in infected individuals in a few as two days or as many as 14 days after exposure.

Anyone who traveled to an impacted area and starts to develop symptoms was urged to contact a medical professional before showing up to a doctor's office so necessary precautions can be taken.

Wooten said people should avoid traveling to the impacted areas unless absolutely necessary.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses usually seen in other mammals. Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, and severe acute respiratory syndrome, SARS, are other types of coronaviruses.

City News Service contributed to this report