- A deadly coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to 13 other countries.
- The US has confirmed five cases: two in California, one in Arizona, one in Washington, and another in Illinois.
- All of the patients had recently visited Wuhan.
- The CDC said the risk to the US public is still low, however.
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The US now has five confirmed cases of a deadly coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China less than a month ago. The outbreak has killed 81 people and infected more than 2,800 in mainland China.
It has spread to 13 countries: Australia, Cambodia, Canada, France, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the US, and Vietnam.
The coronavirus family is a large group of viruses that typically affect the respiratory tract. Coronaviruses can lead to illnesses such as the common cold, pneumonia, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which resulted in 8,000 cases and 774 deaths in China from November 2002 to July 2003.
Patients with the new coronavirus – known as 2019-nCoV – have reported symptoms like fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Those who have died were elderly or otherwise unwell, according to Chinese officials. No deaths have been reported outside China.
Here’s everything we know about the five cases in the US.
The first US case was reported on January 21, when a man in his 30s was confirmed sick in Snohomish County, north of Seattle, Washington.
Foto: A traveler wearing a mask arrives on a direct flight from China at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, January 23, 2020.sourceReuters
The patient contracted the virus after visiting Wuhan but did not exhibit any symptoms while traveling.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is requiring five US airports – in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Chicago – to screen passengers for the virus. All flights in and out of Wuhan have been canceled. Before the cancellations, any coming from Wuhan to the US were diverted to one of those five airports.
The man who contracted the virus landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport before the protocols were instated. Health officials in Washington said they were able to detect this case early, and the has been under strict isolation.
Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District, said during a CDC briefing on January 21 that the patient was „hospitalized out of an abundance of precaution and for short-term monitoring, not because there was severe illness.“
The man is reportedly in good health now.
Three days later, a woman in her 60s became the second case reported in the US. She is being treated in Chicago.
Foto: Employees in scrubs talk at the Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington, after the CDC announced the US‘ first coronavirus diagnosis, January 21, 2020.sourceReuters
The woman traveled to Wuhan in December to care for her elderly father, then returned to Chicago on January 13.
She did not exhibit any symptoms while traveling, but called her doctor a few days after returning to the US to report that she was feeling unwell. The patient was sent to a local hospital, where she was isolated and given fluids. Doctors are treating her symptoms much like they would pneumonia.
As of Friday, the woman was in stable condition. Local health officials said she did not take public transportation, attend any public gatherings, or have extensive contact with anyone outside her home since returning to Chicago.
„I want to start by stating clearly: This is a single travel-associated case, not a local emergency,“ Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said on Friday. „I can reassure you that even with this Chicago case, the health risk to the general public from novel coronavirus remains low at this time.“
Three more US cases were confirmed on Sunday: two in California and one in Arizona.
Foto: Travelers wear face masks at Hong Kong International Airport on January 23, 2020.sourceVIVEK PRAKASH/AFP via Getty Images)
On January 22, a Wuhan resident who was traveling through Los Angeles International Airport on his way to China reported that he wasn’t feeling well to airport staff. He was immediately taken to a local hospital.
The second California case was identified in Orange County. The patient there is being kept in isolation at a local hospital and is reported to be doing well.
In Arizona, meanwhile, a patient is also being kept in isolation. The individual lives in Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located. Health officials described the patient as „a member of the Arizona State University community“ but said the person does not live in university housing.
All three patients recently traveled from Wuhan.
At least 110 people across 26 states have been tested or are awaiting tests for the virus, the CDC said on Monday.
Foto: Medical staff at the Zhongnan hospital in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province.sourceSTR/AFP via Getty Images
Around 2,400 people have passed through airport screenings in the US.
So far, only five cases have come back positive. The CDC said 32 people have tested negative for the virus. The agency plans to test more people in the coming days.
Authorities haven’t found any instances of human-to-human transmission in the US.
Foto: A worker in protective suits checks the temperature of a passenger in Xianning, a city bordering Wuhan to the north.sourceREUTERS/Martin Pollard
At first, authorities suspected that the coronavirus – which likely originated at a wholesale seafood market – could only spread to humans from animals. But they later determined that humans can transmit the virus to one other.
Since all five US patients recently traveled from Wuhan, there’s no evidence that they passed the virus to other people in the US.
The CDC also said there’s no evidence that the virus has spread through imported Chinese goods.
The CDC recommends avoiding all nonessential travel to China’s Hubei province, where Wuhan is located.
Foto: A traveler wearing a mask arrives on a direct flight from China at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.sourceReuters
„I expect that in the coming days, our travel recommendations will change,“ Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on Monday.
For now, people traveling to China are advised to avoid contact with sick people, particularly those with cold symptoms like coughs or runny noses.
The CDC also recommends that all travelers wash their hands frequently with soap and water, making sure to scrub for at least 20 seconds. They should refrain from touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Elderly travelers and anyone with preexisting health conditions should consult a doctor before traveling to China, the CDC said on Sunday.
The US government is planning to charter a flight to evacuate US diplomats and citizens from Wuhan.
Foto: A largely empty train travels to Wuhan from Shanghai on January 23, 2020.sourceHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images
The State Department plans to fly all of its American employees in Wuhan to San Francisco on Tuesday. US citizens who want a spot on the plane have been asked to contact the embassy.
All of Wuhan’s public transportation – including buses, metros, ferries, and train – were shut down on Thursday. Trains and airplanes coming in and out of the city were halted and roadblocks were installed to keep taxis and private cars from exiting.
Wuhan’s 11 million residents have been told not to leave the city, barring special circumstances.
Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said on Monday that „the risk to the US public is now low.“
Foto: Passengers arrive at LAX from Shanghai, China.sourceReuters
„In today’s connected world, an outbreak anywhere can be a risk everywhere,“ Redfield tweeted on Monday. „Risk is dependent on exposure. 2019-nCoV is not spreading in the US at this time.“
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