Missouri patient tests negative for deadly coronavirus; Local healthcare facilities are on alert

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Missouri health officials say a patient in the state has tested negative for the coronavirus. 

The virus led to more than 100 deaths in China so far, where it was first reported. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) stated a person was tested for 2019-nCoV, but the results for that patient in the state came back negative. 

DHSS did not say where the individual was tested or where the person is from.

Public health agencies in Missouri are coordinating their efforts to make sure anyone who has symptoms receives testing, particularly anyone who has recently traveled to China. 

The CDC confirmed five cases of coronavirus in the U.S., in Arizona, California, Illinois and Washington, with more than 100 ongoing investigations into possible cases happening across the country.

Local hospitals, healthcare clinics and urgent cares are all on alert for any possible coronavirus cases that may come in.  

The U.S. Surgeon General -- Vice Admiral Dr. Jerome Adams -- tells KMOX the CDC has asked all healthcare settings to be on the lookout for coronavirus symptoms and to ask about a patient's travel history.

"The challenge, I think, for medical sites is that these are non-specific symptoms," said SLU Care's Dr. Matt Broom, the Chief Medical Officer at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital and Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital.  "Fever, upper respiratory symptoms like cough or having a runny nose -- things that during January in most years would come up often and would look like a common cold.  I think the key factor is confirmed travel to Wuhan, China -- or close contact with someone who is either under investigation of infection from the coronavirus or just came back from that area. That really limits the scope of who could be impacted."

"Because of the non-specific symptoms and because of how coronavirus is typically transmitted, we are still trying to learn for this specific virus what that method is -- how long the incubation period is if somebody is infected, how long till they start having symptoms, or how long it can actually be transmitted to others," Dr. Broom tells KMOX.

"As we learn more about this specific virus, we need to have a plan in place for that screening," said Dr. Broom.  "I think for healthcare providers -- if they are at a clinic or at a school -- the biggest thing right now is to confirm travel to that area of the world and then as we get more information in the coming days and weeks from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that's going to broaden our view and our ability to respond."​