Patient tests negative for coronavirus at St. Anthony Hospital

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- A patient at St. Anthony Hospital is being tested for a possible case of the deadly coronavirus.

Gianna Lisac, a spokesperson for the Lakewood hospital, said the patient is an adult with a "reported respiratory illness."

The patient arrived about 3 p.m. Friday, Lisac said.

The virus, also known as 2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), is believed to have started spreading in and around the Chinese city of Wuhan, where hundreds of people have fallen ill and 17 have died, according to the Associated Press. 

Lisac said the patient had "a history of travel" in Wuhan.

She says the hospital is investigating the case alongside the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The patient is being tested to determine whether he or she has the virus. However, the test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not be available for several days, according to Lisac.

When the patient arrived, the hospital took all precautions recommended by the CDC, including having the patient wear a mask and be in an isolation unit until doctors make a diagnosis.

On Sunday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said that there is no confirmed case of the coronavirus in Colorado. St. Anthony Hospital says the patient who went to the ER for a respiratory illness on Friday tested negative for the coronavirus.

The coronavirus is a family of viruses that have been associated with respiratory illnesses like fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Colorado Division of Disease Control and Public Health Response.

"These viruses spread through coughing or sneezing, much like the flu. Some coronaviruses are common and regularly cause illness in the U.S. in the fall and winter. Other coronaviruses like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV have caused outbreaks internationally and have been known to cause severe illness. It is too soon to know how severe 2019-nCoV is compared to other coronaviruses or how easily it can spread between humans," a spokesperson for the division said.

According to the Associated Press, some experts have drawn parallels between the new coronavirus and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome, another coronavirus that does not spread easily among humans and is thought to be carried by camels.

“There has already been human-to-human transmission and infection of medical workers,” Li Bin, deputy director of the National Health Commission, said at a news conference Wednesday. “Evidence has shown that the disease has been transmitted through the respiratory tract, and there is the possibility of viral mutation.”

Two cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the United States: one in Chicago and one in Washington state.

Public health officials say hand washing and staying away from ill people are the best ways to avoid becoming sick.

"The health risk to the general public is considered low," Lisac said.

A spokesperson for Denver International Airport said the CDC handles health screenings at airports, and DIA has not been identified as an airport where screening is necessary.

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