BURLINGTON — The state health department is working with the federal Centers for Disease Control to monitor travelers returning from China for coronavirus.
Vermont Department of Health announced Thursday that the effort is for people who have returned from China within the past 14 days who showed no symptoms of respiratory illness when they were initially screened.
There have been no cases of the coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, found in Vermont, according to the department, and the risk of contracting it is low.
“We have a multi-layered approach to protecting Vermonters’ health,” Mark Levine, commissioner of health, said in a statement released by the department. “Once a person has been screened and cleared to continue their travel, if Vermont is their final destination, the Health Department is notified. Our epidemiology team then immediately reaches out to that person to assess their risk of exposure and determine what level of monitoring is indicated, and the extent to which the person may have to restrict their movements during the 14-day monitoring period.”
As of Thursday, nine people were being monitored by the health department.
Coronaviruses are common, but COVID-19 is a new strain that can cause severe illness, according to the department. It’s spread through the air by coughs and sneezes. Some symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath and can appear as early as two days after infection, or as long as 14 days.
The state health department activated its Health Operations Center earlier in February to coordinate the state’s response to the virus.
“We are working with the state’s health care providers, hospitals, universities, schools and communities, providing guidance and other supports,” said Levine. “We are well prepared to respond if someone in Vermont tests positive for this virus. This is the work of public health, and we do it every day.”
The department has a section of its website devoted to information about the virus; healthvermont.gov/covid-19.