A Virginia Beach couple who recently traveled on a Nile River cruise have tested “presumptive positive” for coronavirus (COVID-19), marking the first two cases in Hampton Roads.
The Virginia Beach Health Department made the announcement Tuesday.
All reported cases in Virginia have been travel related and there is no evidence of community transmission of COVID19 in Virginia, health officials said.
“We are aware that exposure for these two individuals are travel related,” said Virginia Beach Health Director Dr. Demetria Lindsay. “The Public Health Department is in close communication with the two travelers and their care providers, and is conducting a thorough investigation of potential exposures.
The two individuals, a male in his 60s and female in her 50s, are in stable condition and remain in isolation at this time.
They recently traveled on a Nile River cruise, which recently reported COVID-19 cases. They returned to United States on March 5.
On Sunday the patients were tested at a Virginia Beach hospital, health officials said.
According to published reports, the couple first went to Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk Friday but were sent home because they didn’t meet the state health department or CDC’s criteria for coronavirus testing.
They got a call Sunday about testing and they were directed to Sentara Princess Anne Hospital in Virginia Beach.
The positive test results returned Tuesday are considered presumptive, pending confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Without giving any specifics, Kelsea Smith, senior corporate communications adviser for Sentara Healthcare issued this statement Tuesday afternoon:
“We can confirm that Sentara Healthcare has seen patients who tested positive for COVID-19. We are working closely with the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC to ensure they are receiving coordinated follow up and monitoring. Out of an abundance of caution we are proactively communicating with any individual who may have had potential exposure to the patients while at our hospital. We have a dedicated system task force monitoring this evolving issue and providing the latest guidance to our clinical teams and our community. We are following our infection protection protocols to ensure everyone’s safety. Our hospitals remain open and ready to provide care. We will keep our communities informed as the situation progresses.”
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can cause mild to more severe respiratory illness. Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. In a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can cause complications, including death, particularly among those who are older or who have chronic medical conditions.
Officials said symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person. COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
To lower the risk of respiratory germ spread, including COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health encourages the following effective behaviors:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.
Another case was also reported in Loudoun County Tuesday, bringing the total number of presumptive cases in Virginia to eight — as of late Tuesday afternoon.
The Virginia Department of Health has also activated a public information line, 877-ASK-VDH3, for questions from residents about the novel coronavirus situation.