One person in Monroe County is under “voluntary quarantine” for novel coronavirus surveillance after returning from China, public health commissioner Michael Mendoza said Tuesday.
The person has not shown any symptoms, but entered quarantine at home after arriving in Monroe County on Saturday.
Based on estimates of the virus’s incubation period, seclusion should last 14 days from Friday, when the person was last in China, Mendoza said.
“This is about the best scenario you can possibly imagine for a quarantine,” Mendoza said. “This is a very cooperative individual.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office reported a total of six new potential cases Tuesday, three in New York City and three elsewhere in the state. The person quarantined in Monroe County is not one of those, Mendoza said.
“This is not a suspected case. The person has no symptoms,” Mendoza said. “We’re contacting the person every day, confirming no symptoms.”
The quarantined person is taking their own temperature, and the health department is using technology to monitor their location, Mendoza said.
“This might seem unsettling or alarming,” Mendoza said. “I want to encourage the public to take a step back.”
He said the flu is much more of a threat locally. “We have thousands of people who are actually sick with the flu, and no one currently who is sick with this coronavirus.”
Four people have died of the flu in Monroe County this season: a child under the age of 4 and three people older than 75.
The novel coronavirus is likely less severe than the SARS virus that emerged in 2002, but more severe than the seasonal flu, Mendoza said.
But “the most important thing to consider is, is it in our community at this time. Whether it’s lethal or not, whether it’s contagious or not, if there is no virus here, it really doesn’t matter,” he said.
Emil Lesho, the health care epidemiologist for Rochester Regional Health, agreed with that assessment.
“If they both were boxers, the flu would be having a lot more knockout rounds than novel coronavirus to date,” Lesho said, even in many of the places where the coronavirus is prevalent.
Still, the federal government has restricted entry to travelers coming from China in a bid to slow the virus’s spread.
Rochester airport director Andy Moore said those restrictions are not affecting airport operations locally. “I’ve had multiple conversations with the federal security director from TSA, and there are no changes here in Rochester,” he said.