SALT LAKE CITY — The new and deadly coronavirus has yet to make its way to Utah, but “a lot” of potential cases have been investigated and local health officials are ready to respond should any become a reason for concern.

“None of them have been confirmed positive,” Dr. Angela Dunn, Utah’s epidemiologist, said Wednesday. “While this situation poses a very serious public health threat, the risk to Utahns is low at this time.”

The Utah Department of Health did not release the number of people it has tested for novel coronavirus, but Dunn said there have been “a lot of suspected persons.”

She said everyone can help curtail any threat by avoiding nonessential travel to China, avoid traveling while sick, avoid contact with sick people, as well as general health precautions including proper hand washing and not covering a cough or sneeze with hands.

More than 6,065 cases of coronavirus have been reported across the globe, including 132 that resulted in deaths in China, where the virus first occurred. The majority of known cases are in China, where at least 5,997 have become infected, according to the World Health Organization. Five cases in Arizona, California, Illinois and Washington have been confirmed to have mild cases of the virus following travel to affected areas in the world.

There is no evidence that coronavirus is spreading person-to-person in the U.S., the health department states.

Person-to-person transmissions have been reported throughout China, and very recently in Germany, Vietnam and Japan, WHO reported on Tuesday. As the number of infected individuals has surpassed the SARS outbreak, WHO officials met again on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of declaring an international health emergency.

At least five international airports in the U.S. are screening passengers arriving from China, including in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and San Francisco.

Dunn said it is difficult to predict what will happen with coronavirus because it is new. She said there is no vaccine or treatment available for the virus.

At this time, she said, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is covering the cost of testing people in Utah. A nasal swab and precautionary blood test is sent to the CDC and there is about 48 hours of turnaround time once they receive the specimens, Dunn said.

She also said the incubation period for coronavirus is anywhere from two days to two weeks, making a person contagious for that long, as well.

Outbreaks involving a new virus can be concerning, she said, but the health department is taking precautions statewide to maintain a low risk. It will alert the public if any cases are confirmed within the state.

A website containing more information on coronavirus can be found online at

Anyone who has traveled to China, especially the Wuhan or the Hubei Province, and feels sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, is asked to seek medical care immediately and avoid contact with others.