NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dozens of people were being checked for the coronavirus in the New York City area on Wednesday, officials said, but Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state has had no confirmed cases so far.
“This situation is not a situation that should cause undue fear,” Cuomo told a news conference, saying that 27 people in New York have tested negative for the virus.
Most of the people being checked for the virus were in Nassau County, east of New York city on Long Island, where officials at a separate news conference said 83 people who visited China and may have come in contact with the virus were under observation.
Nassau officials stressed, however, that none of the people being monitored has been found to have the disease.
“I’m happy to say right now, we don’t have a case,” county health commissioner Lawrence Eisenstein said.
In Westchester County, just north of the city, County Executive George Latimer told a news conference eight people were under quarantine for possible exposure to the virus, which was initially detected in China.
No confirmed cases have been discovered in the county so far, Latimer said.
In Suffolk County, just east of Nassau County, health officials said in a statement another 29 people from 22 households who recently returned from China were being monitored for the virus.
“At this time, there are no individuals with symptoms, confirmed cases, or patients under investigation in Suffolk County,” its Department of Health Services said.
While officials told reporters no confirmed cases of the virus have turned up so far in New York City and no one is currently under quarantine, Mayor Bill de Blasio said “I’m 100% certain you will see it.”
“The hospitals have been working on preparations now for weeks,” Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Administration, said standing alongside Cuomo.
The rapid spread of the virus has roiled financial markets concerned about its possible dampening effect on the economy and raised concern among public health officials over whether there are enough resources if there is a surge in cases.
Earlier on Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said a total of 59 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the United States so far
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday that while the immediate risk was low the global situation suggested a pandemic was likely.
“It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when and how many people will be infected,” said the CDC’s principal deputy director, Anne Schuchat.
Reporting by Peter Szekely, Gabriella Borter and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Sonya Hepinstall