Since mid-January, travelers coming from Wuhan, China, have been directed through one of five airports equipped to conduct screening, including O’Hare airport in Chicago. Travelers from Hubei province and other parts of mainland China may be subject to health monitoring and possible quarantine for up to 14 days, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To confirm whether a person in Illinois has contracted the 2019 novel coronavirus, state public health labs previously had to collect specimens and ship them out of state for testing by the CDC.
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This process can delay the results. So the Illinois Department of Public Health said it worked to acquire the necessary kits to conduct the testing in-state.
The CDC announced last week that they would be distributing hundreds of test kits to qualified labs across the U.S., such as state and local public health laboratories, and to select international labs.
In a statement, officials with the Illinois Department of Public Health said in-state testing will enable earlier detection of any new cases of novel coronavirus and help prevent possible spread.
“A quicker response will help alleviate concerns of those being tested as well as the general public,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “We continue to work very closely with federal, state, and local partners to ensure that we have a robust and coordinated public health response to emerging infectious diseases.”
In-state testing is currently available through the IDPH lab in Chicago. The state is in the process of bringing the testing to labs in Springfield and Carbondale as well.
Of the 13 confirmed U.S. cases of coronavirus, two have been in Illinois, where an additional 44 test results have come back negative.
The CDC maintains that the immediate risk to the general public is low.
More information about novel coronavirus can be found on the IDPH website.
The IDPH has created a hotline, in partnership with the Illinois Poison Center, for residents to call if they have questions about this new coronavirus: 800-889-3931 or email DPH.SICK@illinois.gov.
Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman