BATH — A Steuben County resident is under voluntary quarantine due to caution surrounding the coronavirus, Steuben County Public Health officials report.

The voluntary quarantine is not expected to have any impact on other residents in the county, county Public Health Director Darlene Smith told The Evening Tribune of Hornell.

“We want people to know this is standard procedure right now for anyone returning to the U.S. from China,” Smith said. “The individual does not show symptoms and there is no reason to believe he or she even has the illness.”

In Cattaraugus County, Dr. Kevin Watkins, director of the Department of Health, said as of Friday there have been no similar reports of self-quarantine.

The voluntary 14-day isolation and quarantine in Steuben County is in line with U.S. protocols governing the arrival of people from China, where the novel coronavirus was identified in late December.

Smith said her department will continue to keep residents aware of any events that may affect the county.

“We want you to know what we know,” Smith said. “We want you all to feel at ease and understand there is no reason for panic.”

Confirmed cases of the virus rose to 63,851 in mainland China, an increase of 5,090 from a day earlier, according to the National Health Commission. The death toll stood at 1,380, up 121.

As of Thursday, U.S. health officials have confirmed 15 cases of the virus in the U.S.

Infections and deaths from the new virus in China ballooned for a second straight day Friday, on paper at least, as officials near the epicenter of the outbreak struggled to keep up with a backlog of patients’ lab work.

The Associated Press reported that the acceleration in cases was not necessarily an indicator of a surge in the illness known as COVID-19 because the hardest-hit province of Hubei and its capital of Wuhan changed the way it counted cases. But public health experts wrestled with what exactly could be deduced from the numbers given the shift in approach.

“If you change the way you count cases, that obviously confounds our capacity to draw firm conclusions about the effectiveness of the quarantine,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University in the United States. “We have to interpret the numbers with great caution.”

Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is jeckstrom@oleantimesherald.com.)

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