SANTA FE – The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) continues to monitor and respond to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. While there remain no cases in New Mexico, the virus has spread to 11 countries outside of China, and ‘community spread’ has increased or been detected in several countries, including South Korea, Iran and Italy.
Community spread means that cases have been confirmed with no travel to China and no known contact with another case of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week published a Level 3 Travel Warning advising US citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to South Korea. This is the same warning level as China.
“We are taking all precautionary measures possible and preparing as advised by the CDC for potential community spread in the United States,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel.
The Department of Health has plans in place for how to accommodate many issues related to any spread of this virus to include in-hospital patient overflow, as well as plans for alternate sites to care for patients. NMDOH is also actively monitoring the hospital bed capacity in New Mexico and the availability of facemasks, respirators, and other personal protective equipment needed by medical personnel for infection control.
The NMDOH continues to ask all persons returning from travel to China and now South Korea to call our 24/7/365 “Epidemiology Hotline” at 505-827-0006 for guidance on how to protect yourself and your community from the novel coronavirus, even if you are not sick.
We also encourage healthcare providers to call NM DOH regarding ill returning travelers from China and South Korea. Healthcare professionals who suspect COVID-19 should immediately notify infection control personnel at their facility and contact the New Mexico Department of Health at: (505) 827-0006.
It is again important to note that there are no confirmed cases reported from New Mexico. NMDOH to date has monitored about 30 travelers returning from China, and none have developed symptoms of COVID-19.