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Possible N.J. coronavirus case being investigated by health officials – NJ.com

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New Jersey health officials are investigating a possible case of coronavirus, the deadly virus responsible for an outbreak in China that has spread to more than a dozen countries.

The state Department of Health told NJ Advance Media on Monday that testing is being conducted to determine if the unidentified person has the deadly novel coronavirus. Test results are pending from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

No further details on the patient have been released.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker are continuing to demand answers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about its response to the outbreak and the steps the agency is taking to ensure public safety, according to a statement issued Monday.

“We write to express concern about the rapidly evolving 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), to urge your continued robust and scientifically driven response to the situation, and to assess whether any additional resources or action by Congress are needed at this time,” the senators wrote in joint statement to Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“A quick and effective response to the 2019-nCoV requires public health officials around the world to work together to share reliable information about the disease and insight into steps taken to prevent, diagnose and treat it appropriately.”

The outbreak of the new coronavirus is intensifying, with the death toll reaching 80 in China — where the outbreak began — and thousands more infected.

There have been five confirmed cases in the U.S.: a man in Washington State; a woman in Chicago; a patient in Los Angeles County, California; a man in Orange County, California; and a patient in Arizona.

New Jersey health officials had been investigating another suspected case in the state late last week — a woman in her mid-20s who was ultimately cleared by doctors after being taken to Hackensack University Medical Center.

There is also a suspected case in Philadelphia involving an exchange student from China. Test results remain pending in that case.

James Garrow, spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, said in an email that it was notified Friday night that an exchange student being hosted at William Penn Charter School might have coronavirus.

“Montgomery County (where the student presented for care) submitted a sample to the State for confirmatory testing,” Garrow said. “We (the state, us and Montgomery County) have not received the results yet. We were told that it would take days to get those results back.”

Cases have been reported in at least 16 countries, according to the CDC.

In China, cases have been mounting, with 3,000 confirmed so far, roughly half of which are clustered in the central Chinese province of Hubei.

It’s believed that the new form of the coronavirus spread from a seafood market in Wuhan, where live animals are often sold in close contact with others, like dogs, hares, raccoons and civets. The market was shut down Jan. 1.

Spencer Kent may be reached at skent@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerMKent. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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