A rapid response diagnostic test for the coronavirus, or COVID-19, is being developed by Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI) and will be available within the next few days.
Chief Scientific Officer Dr. David Perlin told NJBIZ that CDI built a diagnostic based on recommendations and specifications provided by CDC. Perlin said that his team applied for emergency use authorization from the FDA to be able to use the test, and expects approval by the end of the week.
The test, said Perlin, would be used as triage.
“If a patient presents who has clinical criteria that would warrant testing directly for the virus, we would then use our test to rapidly assess their positive or negative,” he said. “If they are positive, then along with the clinical criteria for that individual patient, they would be referred to the state labs for additional testing and then if it is positive, then to the CDC.”
Perlin said that while the risk of contracting COVID-19 is currently low in the U.S., he urged people to be prudent about their health.
“If you’re ill stay home, if you feel that you’ve had an exposure stay home and contact your physician.”
New cases of the virus surfaced in Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, New York and Florida on Sunday, bringing the total to 89 as of Monday morning, up from 65 last Friday night.
Atlantic Health System said that its clinicians regularly care for patients with severe respiratory illnesses and other infectious diseases, and are well trained and follow specific procedures using all the tools and techniques in place to protect themselves, including the use of personal protective equipment.
In a statement Atlantic Health said: “We are drawing on this experience as we continue to prepare and address key issues, including the early recognition and isolation of any patient identified as being high risk for COVID19.”
Atlantic Health recommends preventative actions to help limit the spread of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19 and flu, including washing hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth; and avoiding close contact (6 feet) with people who appear to have a respiratory infection.
Patients who have symptoms are urged to call ahead of a visit to the doctor to communicate travel history and symptoms before arriving, enabling the provider to determine the best setting for you to receive care, according to Atlantic Health.
Dr. Daniel Hart, medical director of infectious diseases at Summit Medical Group/CityMD, said that most people who get the coronavirus only experience a mild viral syndrome that may include fever, cough, myalgias and fatigue, and will go on to have a full recovery. The elderly and patients with serious medical conditions are at higher risk.
“Our first priority is the safety of our patients and everyone at Summit Medical Group/CityMD. For us that means reinforcing our protocols, using appropriate supplies and devising rapid-response contingency plans,” Daniel Hart. “We will soon be offering centralized telephonic screening of all patients with possible symptoms and increasing capacity for virtual visits to evaluate patients. Also, we are working with state and local health care providers and officials to keep you as informed as possible and will continue to enhance our disease surveillance and monitor the situation as it unfolds.”
Summit medical clinicians, said Hart, are providing counseling, information on infection control and home isolation.
On Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy, joined by state health and emergency management officials at the Regional Operations Intelligence Center, highlighted New Jersey’s preparedness measures amid the global novel coronavirus outbreak and said that New Jersey has no confirmed cases of COVID-19.
“As governor, I am charged with safeguarding the health and safety of our residents,” said Murphy. “My Administration is actively engaged in a multi-level, whole-of-government approach – from our hospitals, to our schools, to our ports – to implement a preparedness and response plan for the potential spread of the coronavirus in New Jersey. Together, we are prepared to respond properly and swiftly to any future individuals who meet the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for coronavirus testing.”
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that although this novel virus in understandably a cause for concern, it is important for New Jersey residents to know that the risk to the general public still remains low.
“We are working closely with the CDC and our public health and health care partners to ensure our preparedness levels for this novel virus remain high,” Persichilli said.
On Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is planning for the possibility that President Donald Trump could make an emergency declaration to bring in extra funds and personnel to assist the administration’s coronavirus response.