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CDC gives permission to Wisconsin labs for local testing of the coronavirus

Two labs in Wisconsin can now test for the coronavirus locally instead of sending samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for testing in Atlanta. The testing will be done at the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and at the Milwaukee Health Department.

“Fast access to high-quality testing can help make a difference in our efforts to identify and control the spread of the disease,” said State Health Officer Jeanne Ayers on March 2.

Ayers, with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said one person has tested positive for the virus in Wisconsin but has recovered and is no longer in isolation. There have been no new positive cases, but two test results are pending. Eighteen people have tested negative.

Dr. Allen Bateman, of the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, said previous versions of the test kits provided by the CDC could give inaccurate results. The federal agency has improved the kits shared with state and local agencies, but the CDC will be the second confirmation of any positive tests. This strain of coronavirus, called COVID-19, is a respiratory illness that has killed thousands in China and sickened people around the world.

COVID-19 is caused by a member of the coronavirus family that’s a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses. Symptoms can include fever, runny nose, cough and breathing trouble. Most people develop only a mild case, but some, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.

Wisconsin health officials also asked people to pay attention to the flu, which they said people in Wisconsin are more likely to catch than the coronavirus. The state’s influenza surveillance coordinator, Tom Haupt, said the flu season is either at or nearing its peak, and has been nasty.

“The hospitalizations over the last week have been over 500, which is amazing for this time of year,” said Haupt.

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Guardian US is the regional extension of The Guardian, a British daily newspaper originally known as the Manchester Guardian from 1821 to 1959. This article from theguardian.com is published under the limited redistribution rights of its open license terms. Syndicated courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd.