DHHS: Nebraskans who traveled to countries impacted by coronavirus should contact health officials
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and its public health partners continue to closely track the unfolding outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and anticipate its impact on Nebraska and its health care systems. The virus originated in China and has spread to multiple other countries including the United States. So far, there have been no cases identified in Nebraska residents.
“Ensuring the health of Nebraskans is our main priority and public health officials continue to actively monitor self-isolated Nebraska residents who recently returned from China,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for DHHS. “Based on the spread of COVID-19 and an increase in cases in other countries, DHHS is now including Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, along with China. We’re asking people with travel to these countries in the last 14 days to either self-report to the Nebraska public health online system at http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx or contact their local health department for guidance and next steps. Informing the local health department of recent travel history is the most direct way to ensure timely medical care if needed and to minimize the potential risk to others.”
A map of Nebraska’s local health departments can be found here – http://dhhs.ne.gov/CHPM%20Maps/NE_Health_Dept_Map_Dec_2016.pdf . A list of local health departments along with contact information is provided below.
It is important to remember that people who may become ill upon returning from overseas travel are more likely to have other respiratory illnesses typically seen this time of year like flu, which might also require treatment.
However, it is very possible that we could see travel-related COVID-19 cases in Nebraska residents. State and local public health officials continue to take action to prevent the spread of disease and protect the health of Nebraskans including:
- Sharing the latest guidance and information with local health departments, hospitals, health care providers, first responders and local and state labs through our extensive Health Alert Network to ensure a well-coordinated response in Nebraska. DHHS Health Alert Network – http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Health-Alert-Network.aspx
- Assessing our health care system’s readiness to identify, monitor and treat patients with coronavirus disease 2019.
- Engaging in active and ongoing communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other state and federal partners as part of the overall national response to this emerging public health threat.
- Reviewing and enhancing response plans to be ready for the detection of COVID-19 in our state.
- Facilitating confirmatory testing, isolation and monitoring of Nebraskans experiencing symptoms to identify cases as soon as possible.
- Updating dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus with the latest information and resources.
- With our local health department partners, we have a system in place to track and monitor people who have contact with a confirmed case in an effort to immediately detect secondary cases and minimize the potential for ongoing, undetected, person-to-person transmission.
Nebraskans are also encouraged to review their family preparedness plans in the event that coronavirus disease 2019 continues to spread in the United States. More resources will be available soon at http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus.
People can help protect themselves from COVID-19 and other respiratory infections by:
- Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with sick people and stay home if you are sick.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.