Two Iowans who are undergoing testing for coronavirus remain in home confinement. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

UPDATE, Feb. 10, 2020: The Iowa Department of Public Health announced today that the two people tested for the novel coronavirus have tested negative.

The department’s website indicates 26 people who do not have symptoms for the virus are being monitored in Iowa.

Original post: Iowa health officials have identified two possible cases of coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of people worldwide.

Neighboring Wisconsin and Illinois already have confirmed cases of the virus, with 12 nationwide, including sporadic cases also in California, Arizona, Massachusetts and Washington.

Dr. Caitlin Pedati, medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, would not identify where the two suspected cases are in Iowa, citing patient privacy.

She advised Iowans to cover their coughs, wash their hands thoroughly and stay at home when ill, as is typically recommended during flu season.

On Facebook, Pedati also advised anyone who has traveled in the past 14 days to China, the epicenter of the coronavirus, to call their doctor’s office if they become ill.

There is no need for the general public to wear face masks, she added, and no one should assume that anyone of Asian descent has the virus.

While there are no vaccines or antiviral drugs approved to prevent or treat coronavirus, Pedati said it’s not too late for Iowans to get a flu shot.

Coronavirus can cause respiratory infections and has killed more than 400 people as of earlier this month, mostly in Wuhan, China, where an outbreak was first reported in December.

The Iowa Department of Public Health issued the following on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, with updates expected later:

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has implemented the recommendations of President Trump’s Task Force on Coronavirus. This increased surveillance is expected to result in notification of individuals identified for testing and monitoring for novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

This enhanced level of surveillance has identified two Iowans that recently returned from China who are undergoing testing for novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), and are under voluntary home confinement. The testing is being done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and results are not expected for several days. This is part of a planned, layered approach that utilizes a variety of actions to protect the public health.