A woman who had already checked at multiple stores for masks was able to purchase five of them at this pharmacy in New York on Jan. 23, 2020. For Americans with close ties to China, the coronavirus outbreak that started in the city of Wuhan and has spread in Asia has brought unexpected new worry, disappointment and scrutiny. (An Rong Xu/The New York Times)

Two of three possible cases of the coronavirus respiratory outbreak under review by the Virginia Department of Health tested negative on Monday.

The original story from Sunday is below:

The Virginia Department of Health is investigating three possible cases of the coronavirus respiratory outbreak, which has spread rapidly since it originated in Wuhan, China, in December.

Authorities have confirmed nearly 2,000 cases of the new strain of the virus worldwide, with 56 deaths in China as of Sunday, according to The Associated Press. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed five cases of the virus in the U.S. — in Arizona, California, Illinois and Washington, all in travelers from Wuhan.

Common coronaviruses can cause mild to moderate respiratory illness with symptoms similar to the common cold. However, two previously identified coronaviruses caused severe disease: severe acute respiratory syndrome, known as SARS, and Middle East respiratory syndrome, known as MERS.

This new strain of the virus reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market in Wuhan, suggesting the virus was spread from animal to person, but a growing number of patients have not been exposed to animal markets, indicating that the virus is spreading from person to person, according to the CDC.

“This is a rapidly evolving situation,” the Department of Health’s news release stated.

Two of the patients under investigation in Virginia are from central Virginia and the third is from Northern Virginia. The VDH did not release any further details about the patients in order to protect confidentiality.

Symptoms of the current outbreak include fever, cough and trouble breathing and can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure, according to VDH.

VDH encourages health care providers to ask patients about recent international travel and to consider coronavirus infection in patients who have traveled to Wuhan and to report possible cases to the Health Department for testing.

VDH recommends taking steps to prevent respiratory illness, including getting a flu vaccination, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, staying home when sick and taking flu antivirals as prescribed.

The CDC has also issued a warning to avoid nonessential travel to Hubei province, China.

VDH will continue to update its coronavirus webpage with information on suspected and confirmed cases in the state.

(804) 649-6601

Twitter: @bridgetbalch

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