UW Health: Coronavirus is unlikely to spread from first confirmed patient

UW Health: Coronavirus is unlikely to spread from first confirmed patient

U.S> -- Wednesday afternoon, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services confirmed Wisconsin had its first case of coronavirus, found in patient who came to University Hospital.

It's a moment Dr. Nasia Safdar, UW Health's medical director of infection control, said the hospital never wanted to come. Still, she said they've planned for weeks on what to if it did.

"The E.D. (Emergency Department) in particular was very well prepared," she said. "We had been preparing for this for quite some time ever since the first cases were coming out of China."

Dr. Safdar said the preparation starts in the emergency room. When a patient comes in they're asked about their symptoms and recent travel history.

If they mention respiratory symptoms and recent travel to China, they're flagged for testing.

"They are taken back into a private room where it's called a negative pressure room to prevent spreading the virus to everyone else," she said.

From there, doctors begin collecting samples from the patient to send to the state hygiene lab for testing.

"The health care workers that enter the room are fully garbed up in gowns, gloves, eye protection, a face mask and an N-95 respirator," Dr. Safdar said.

In Dane County's confirmed case, Janel Heinrich, the director of public health Madison and Dane County, said the patient did everything they could on their own to prevent spreading the virus even before they made it to the hospital.

"They've done everything right including wearing a mask and reporting directly to the E.D. upon arrival," she said.

The patient came in Beijing through the Dane County Regional Airport.

Dr. Safdar said their symptoms weren't severe so after testing, the patient didn't need to stay for clinical treatment. Instead she said UW Health provided detailed quarantine instructions and let the patient recover at home.

"They had a support system at home that would include being able to self-isolate properly," she said.

At this point, UW Health couldn't say how long the patient had to be isolated but they said additional testing is possible.

This patient is expected to recover.