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Three Dominican High School students delaying return home from China 'as a precautionary measure'

Posted at 6:17 PM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 11:22:39-05

WHITEFISH BAY — A local high school is sending parents a precautionary message about students in China after officials have declared coronavirus a global health emergency.

Dominican High School in Whitefish Bay sent a letter to parents Thursday afternoon. The letter states there are three students in China, but not in the Wuhan area where the outbreak originated. The letter says the students, "have agreed to delay their return to the United States for two weeks as a precautionary measure. We will continue to monitor and assess the situation prior to making a decision regarding their return to Dominican High School."

The letter also mentions Dominican's partner school, the Wisconsin International Academy, has isolated a student who recently returned from China as a precaution, and that the student has not displayed symptoms. A spokesperson for the school said that student will be kept separate for at least a week.

On Thursday, a man in Chicago became the sixth case of the confirmed virus in the United States, the first person-to-person transmission. Officials say he became infected by his wife, who had recently returned from China. Officials say that man is in stable condition, and his wife is still hospitalized but "doing well."

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is the state's lead agency for monitoring the virus.

"The risk to the general public at this time is very low in Wisconsin," said Stephanie Smiley, the director for the bureau of communicable diseases at DHS.

There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Wisconsin. Seven people have been tested. One has come back negative, and the other six are still pending.

"We want to assure the public that there isn't a greater risk of exposure to anyone should those results become positive," Smiley said.

DHS officials can't reveal how or where the patients are being treated. Officials expect to hear those results in the next few days.

"I think what is important for people to know about folks that have been tested is that they are isolating at home, they are making sure that they're taking care of themselves and protecting people who may be close contacts of them just, you know, out of an abundance of caution," Smiley said.

In the meantime, state health workers urge people to continue to practice good hygiene, especially in the middle of the flu season.

"For now, really it is about the safety in terms of handwashing, covering your mouth and all of those things when you're sneezing and coughing that's what we're really stressing," Smiley said. "Because again, you're going to probably come down with influenza or a cold, that seems to be more likely at this point than the novel coronavirus."

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