New Jersey officials on Monday sought to allay growing public concern about the new strain of coronavirus that has killed more than 900 in China, noting once again that no confirmed cases of the disease are present in the state.
State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, who was joined by federal lawmakers Sen. Robert Menendez and Rep. Albio Sires and others at a news conference in Newark, also noted that there are no suspected cases in New Jersey. One airline passenger is under a 14-day quarantine in the state because they had traveled in the central Chinese region that’s the epicenter of the outbreak, not because they had symptoms of the flu-like illness.
Meanwhile, as the officials convened in Newark, the crew of a cruise ship that had been the focus of public worry last week prepared to set sail from Bayonne again, after test results came back negative over the weekend for four Chinese passengers who had screened as possibly being infected with the virus.
Numerous news outlets also reported that authorities had determined that a crew member who died aboard the Anthem of the Seas before it docked in Bayonne at the end of last week was not believed to have had the disease.
The officials said a state coronavirus hotline, manned by state poison control personnel, has fielded some 400 calls about the previously unknown pathogen, many from people who were worried over the reports about the cruise ship in Bayonne, owned by Royal Caribbean.
“People in Bayonne were calling from the parking lot because they thought they had the virus,” said Sires, a Hudson County Democrat.
The test results showed that three of the four passengers had the flu, and the fourth was asymptomatic. All flew back to China this weekend, officials said.