AP NEWS

7 coronavirus cases reported in S. Carolina; 5 in one city

March 9, 2020 GMT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) —

Seven people have tested positive for the new coronavirus in South Carolina as a fifth case was confirmed Monday in a smaller city northeast of Columbia, officials said.

Four of the five cases appear to be related to a woman in her 80s who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Friday and hospitalized in isolation, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control said.

The new case in Camden also had face-to-face contact with the initial woman. He was tested after going to the doctor and then allowed to go home and stay isolated, State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said.

Camden is a city of about 7,200 people some 40 miles (65 kilometers) northeast of Columbia.

Bell said there was no reason to shut down schools or public gatherings in the city.

The advice is the same as it is during flu season: “stay home if you are sick. People don’t often take that message seriously,” Bell said.

The state is sending each positive test to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for final confirmation. The federal agency has confirmed two cases and is working on the other five, state officials said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.

The other two cases of COVID-19 in the state involved a man in Spartanburg who traveled to Italy and a woman in Charleston who traveled to France and Italy. Both of them are remaining isolated at home, officials said.

State health officials have now tested 31 people for the virus and have about 1,000 testing kits available, DHEC Director Rick Toomey said.

The Richland 1 School District in Columbia released a statement Monday reporting five students at threes school had indirect contact with a person being tested to see if they are infected.

The district did not talk to health officials before issuing the statement, said Toomey, who asked other districts to please talk to health officials if they have any coronavirus concerns.

There are no plans to close schools anywhere in the state, Bell said.

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