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Minnesota Department of Health investigating possible coronavirus case

Minnesota Department of Health investigating possible coronavirus case Photo: MGN

Updated: February 27, 2020 07:13 PM

The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating one possible case of coronavirus.

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A spokesperson with MDH said the department is waiting for test results from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The department said the person had traveled abroad, however, did not specify where they had visited. According to MDH, the person has isolated themselves from others.

If the test comes back positive, the department said the person will stay quarantined, the people he or she has been in contact with recently will be contacted, and they'll also be quarantined. MDH added there may be additional requirements.

Four other COVID-19 cases that were previously sent to the CDC from Minnesota came back negative.

"We want to make sure Minnesotans are aware that when we look at what's happening globally with this disease, we are seeing increased activity and increased spread, and that means that it's very likely that coronavirus could actually affect our daily lives as Minnesotans," said Kris Ehresmann, Director of MDH Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division.

The health department said if the virus is confirmed in Minnesota and spreads, there are multiple tools in its toolbox, which could potentially include closing schools or canceling public gatherings, or possibly requesting faith communities hold services via video.

The department said businesses need to prepare to possibly have some sickened employees work from home to help slow transmission.

"Making sure your core critical functions in your organization, that you've thought about if there's a lot of absenteeism, how are we going to make sure things happen," Ehresmann said.

Cargill told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, "As coronavirus continues to impact people across the globe, we are committed to taking every precaution to help keep our employees healthy and safe, and do our part in helping to limit the spread of the virus. Based on input from the World Health Organization and other agencies, and out of an abundance of caution, we have announced that Cargill has stopped international business travel for the next two weeks."

The message for Minnesota families: "We are encouraging people to start stocking up in a gradual way on non-perishable items," Ehresmann said, so that if you or your family member is ill, you won't sicken others at the grocery store.

Families are also encouraged to keep track of and stay up-to-date with prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as having a plan for if your childcare provider gets sick.

"What we're suggesting is very common sense, but just what people can start to be thinking about now, so that if we see widespread transmission and people aren't able to keep doing things as they do on a regular basis, that they still have some of the essentials that they need," Ehresmann said.

For more information regarding the coronavirus from MDH, click here.

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