THE CENTRAL HOSPITAL OF WUHAN VIA WEIBO /via REUTERS
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, Washington.
The patient contracted the virus after visiting Wuhan but did not exhibit any symptoms while traveling.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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 people 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 man has been under strict isolation.
Chris Spitters, a 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 in good health now, according to a spokesman at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, Herald Net reported.
Three days later, a woman in her 60s became the second case reported in the US. She is being treated in Chicago.
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 treat pneumonia.
As of Friday, the woman was in stable condition, the CDC said, according to ABC 7 Eyewitness News. 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, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said on Friday, according to ABC 7 Eyewitness News. “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.
VIVEK 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 in isolation. The person lives in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix. Health officials described the patient as “a member of the Arizona State University community” but said the person did 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.
STR/AFP via Getty Images
About 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.
At first, authorities suspected that the coronavirus — which likely originated at a wholesale seafood market — could spread to humans only from animals. But they later determined that humans could transmit the virus to one another.
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 was 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.
“I expect that in the coming days, our travel recommendations will change,” Nancy Messonnier, the 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 and 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.
HECTOR 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, ferries, and trains — was 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 the city.
Wuhan’s 11 million residents have been told not to leave the city, barring special circumstances.
Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, said on Monday that “the risk to the US public is now low.”
“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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