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caption: A website of the Centers for Disease Control shows countries that have confirmed cases of the new coronavirus.
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A website of the Centers for Disease Control shows countries that have confirmed cases of the new coronavirus.

Eight sick people being tested for coronavirus in Washington state

Eight people in Washington are under review for possible coronavirus illness. That number is expected to change.

The eight people are isolating themselves while doctors test them for the virus. They include at least two University of Washington students.

Washington State's Health Officer, Doctor Kathy Lofy, maintains that the risk to the public is low for contracting the virus. They're testing these eight people as a precaution, and/or because they reported symptoms. They are not hospitalized at this time.

"We really don't know if they have novel coronavirus," she says. "They're just people who may possibly have the infection, we are asking them to stay home... while we're waiting for their test results to come back."

She says the number of people being inspected will change as results come back, and as more people potentially report symptoms. Lofy says they're not revealing the locations of the people who are under investigation because the cases aren't confirmed.

Three University of Washington students were screened for the new coronavirus after they traveled to Wuhan, China, where the disease is thought to have originated.

A university email on Sunday said all three developed symptoms, but tests on one student came back negative for infection. The other two students are living in isolation on campus until their results are ready.

There is still only one confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in Washington state, in a patient in Everett.

Meanwhile, more than 60 other people are being monitored for symptoms because they had close contact with the Everett patient.

The first cases of the novel coronavirus were identified in China in December. Since then, several thousand cases have been confirmed in China, and dozens of people have died.

There have been five confirmed cases of the virus in the United States – including the first, involving a Snohomish County man.

Since some of the investigations are at University of Washington, the institution sent out an advisory Sunday.

“We are asking everyone — and, importantly, students in communal living situations, including on-campus housing, fraternities and sororities — to take steps we always recommended to protect yourself and others, and to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, especially during cold and flu season,” the UW statement said.

“Stay home when you are sick to prevent others from being exposed to your illness.

“If you see a health care provider for fever and cough, ask for a surgical mask to help prevent spread of infection when in the health care setting.

“Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and immediately dispose of the tissue.

“Wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

“Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.

“If you have recently traveled to Wuhan, China, (within 14 days) and are having fever and respiratory symptoms (such as coughing or shortness of breath), contact your primary care provider. Call your health care provider before arriving so they can prepare for your visit.”