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In Midst Of Coronavirus, Health Officials Caution Against Excluding People ‘Based On Their Race’

Face or respiratory masks on sale at a Home Depot store in Los Angeles, California on January 22, 2020 (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
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The county is prepared should Los Angeles experience an outbreak of the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV, health officials said Thursday. They emphasized that no such outbreak has occurred to date.

In a press conference geared towards educators and school officials, the director of the L.A. County County Department of Public Health, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, issued a reminder that there has been only one instance of 2019-nCoV in L.A. County – an individual who was traveling overseas.

“There is no immediate threat to the general public,” she said. “There are no special precautions that are required.”

With that said, Ferrer emphasized that no one – particularly children or students – should be singled out for any reason.

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“People cannot, should not be excluded from activities based on their race or country of origin or travel history if they don’t have symptoms of respiratory illness,” she said.

The 2019-nCoV outbreak began in Wuhan, China last year. Since then, thousands of people worldwide are estimated to have been infected with it.

In the U.S., the first known case of the virus spreading from person to person was reported on Thursday in Chicago. The first two cases of novel coronavirus in Los Angeles and Orange Counties were reported on Sunday, both involving individuals who had traveled to or from Wuhan.

The World Health Organization on Thursday declared the outbreak a global health emergency.