ST. LOUIS — Right now, 20 people in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County are under medical surveillance after being exposed to someone with coronavirus.
The news came a day after 5 On Your Side learned a patient in Belleville was being tested for the virus. Friday evening, Illinois health officials confirmed that patient does not have the virus.
On Friday, leaders in both the county and city announced their plan to deal with a possible outbreak.
"We will be prepared, but we are a long way away from asking people to stay home, but if we get to that point we will implement our recommendations based on guidance from the CDC," said St. Louis County Executive Sam Page.
Page was a practicing anesthesiologist for more than 20 years.
On Friday, he combined his knowledge as a physician and political leader to update the public on the coronavirus.
He said right now 20 people are "under surveillance" in the city and county because of the virus.
"That means they may have been exposed. They may have been in contact with a traveler. They may have gone to a foreign country or may have been repatriated," Page explained.
With more than 80,000 confirmed cases worldwide and more cases popping up throughout the country, Page said it's best to be on the safe side, which is why they're monitoring those 20 people closely.
"We're taking all the proper precautions keeping those folks segregated from others or quarantined so to speak," explained Page.
City and county leaders said they'll have the funding and support of their respective board members to handle the virus if it spreads.
"Essentially, what we are more than likely to see is a situation similar to H1N1 years ago," said St. Louis City Health Director Fredrick Echols.
With only one person being tested for coronavirus in our area at Memorial Hospital in Belleville, officials said there's no reason to panic at this time.
"We do not want folks to believe there is something wild and crazy going on in St. Louis right now because that is not the case," added Page.
The symptoms of the virus are similar to a common cold or the flu.
Page said if you feel like you have those symptoms you should call the St. Louis County coronavirus hotline at 314-615-2660 instead of going into a office and potentially exposing others.