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Individual undergoing tests for possible coronavirus case at Duke Hospital

Update: The individual tested negative for coronavirus, according to a Saturday news release.

An unidentified individual is being treated and tested at Duke Hospital for a possible case of coronavirus.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is investigating the potential case, though the likelihood of the person having coronavirus is low. The patient traveled to China and passed through Wuhan, where the virus originated, before landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport Jan. 23.

"Although it is unlikely that this person was infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus, we are conducting testing out of an abundance of caution," State Epidemiologist Zack Moore said in a DHHS news release. "If you haven’t traveled to Wuhan in the past two weeks, your risk of infection with this virus is very low."

According to the release, the Division of Public Health is arranging testing for the virus at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The patient came in with mild respiratory symptoms, but is currently in good condition. The person wore a mask the entire time they were at the airport, and nobody there is considered at risk.

The individual met "the criteria symptomatic of respiratory illness" and is undergoing evaluation and testing, according to an email sent to Duke University Health System staff by DUHS Executive Vice President William Fulkerson.

He added that the "risk to our community for the coronavirus is low," but that the hospital has taken appropriate precautions.

"While we await the results from the test, the patient is being cared for in a contained and isolated unit by volunteers from our infectious disease team who are specially trained in the treatment of patients with novel viruses," Fulkerson wrote.

There have not yet been any confirmed coronavirus cases in North Carolina, and only two individuals have been diagnosed with the virus in the United States. 

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to DUHS Executive Vice President as James Wilkerson. The Chronicle regrets the error. 

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