Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is working with officials in Thailand and China following reports of confirmation of the novel coronavirus in a person in Thailand.
The person was a traveler from Wuhan, China, and was identified by Thai officials on 8 January, and hospitalized that day. The person is recovering from the illness according to Thai officials.
The possibility of cases being identified in other countries was not unexpected, and reinforces why WHO calls for on-going active monitoring and preparedness in other countries. WHO has issued guidance on how to detect and treat persons ill with the new virus.
The genetic sequencing shared by China enables more countries to rapidly diagnose patients.
WHO reiterates that it is essential that investigations continue in China to identify the source of this outbreak and any animal reservoirs or intermediate hosts.
This is the fourth internationally exported case of 2019-nCoV from Wuhan City, China by travelers. Since the initial report of cases on 31 December 2019, and as of 20 January 2020, 278 laboratory-confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV infection including six deaths were reported to WHO globally from China, two cases from Thailand, one case from Japan, and one case from the Republic of Korea. In China, 51 are severe cases, and 12 cases are critically ill. They are all under isolation treatment at designated medical institutions in Wuhan. Among the cases reported in China, 14 cases have been reported from Guangdong province, five from Beijing municipality and one from Shanghai municipality.
The source of the outbreak is still under investigation in Wuhan City. Preliminary investigations have identified environmental samples positive for nCoV in Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan City, however some laboratory-confirmed patients did not report visiting this market. Cases continue to be reported from Wuhan City, and from other provinces in China. Additional investigations are needed to determine how the patients were infected, the extent of human-to-human transmission, the clinical spectrum of disease, and the geographic range of infection.
A person in Washington State is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, the first confirmed case in the United States of a mysterious respiratory infection that has killed at least six people and sickened hundreds more in Asia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Tuesday.
Federal officials also announced expanded screenings for the infection at major airports in the United States. In addition to New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, airports in Atlanta and Chicago will begin examining passengers arriving from Wuhan for signs of illness.
The infected man, a resident of Snohomish County, Wash., who is in his 30s, developed symptoms after returning from a trip to the region around Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began.
He returned from Wuhan on Jan. 15, two days before passenger screening was instituted at three major airports in the United States, but he had no symptoms at the time.
He read online about the mysterious new virus that causes fever and respiratory illness, and informed his doctors about his recent trip when he sought care on Sunday, federal officials said.
He was seen at a clinic in Snohomish County and is now hospitalized at Providence Regional Medical Center-Everett. Specimens from the patient were sent to the C.D.C. in Atlanta, and officials confirmed on Monday that he was infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, also called 2019-nCoV.
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Health officials declined to identify the patient, but said that he has a mild case of pneumonia, is doing well and has been very cooperative.
Health care workers are also trying to identify people who may have had contact with the infected traveler, and are notifying some of the passengers on his return flight who might have been exposed. They will monitor those fellow passengers for fever and respiratory symptoms.
“We’re very comfortable the patient is isolated and poses little risk to the staff or general public,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer at the Snohomish Health District, adding that the strict isolation practices were implemented in “an abundance of caution.”
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News of the first case of the virus in the United States surfaced as officials studied growing evidence that the disease can be transmitted from person to person, although it is not clear how easily.
“There is new information hour by hour, day by day, that we are tracking and following closely,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the C.D.C.’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
The C.D.C. has deployed staff overseas who are working closely with the ministries of health in China and Thailand. “The key issue we all need to understand is how easily and sustainably the virus is spread from human to human,” Dr. Messonnier said.
Federal health officials plan to expand the screening of passengers arriving in the United States from Wuhan to five airports that are major international hubs. All travelers from the city will be funneled through those airports.
Screenings started on Friday and Saturday at New York’s Kennedy International Airport, San Francisco International and Los Angeles International. Now they will be expanded to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International and Chicago O’Hare International over the next few days.
Passengers from Wuhan planning to arrive in other cities will be issued new tickets taking them to one of the five screening airports, officials said.
The outbreak, which began in December in a seafood and poultry market in Wuhan, a city of 11 million, is spreading: Patients have been identified in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, as well as Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and South Korea.
On Tuesday, Chinese authorities confirmed that six people have died of the infection in Wuhan. Nearly 300 cases have been reported to date in China, and federal health officials said that number is likely to grow. Many of the patients lived in or traveled to Wuhan.
The World Health Organization will meet tomorrow to decide whether to declare the outbreak an international public health emergency. But information about the new virus is still thin, and it’s not clear whether or how many Americans are at risk.
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“There are still more questions that we don’t know the answers to than things we do know,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
“For example, what is the source? We don’t know exactly. The location likely was the live animal market, but we don’t know the particular animal.”
The more pressing and urgent question, he said: “How frequent is human-to-human transmission?”
“Could people with mild infections transmit this virus from person to person?” he added. “That all remains still under investigation.”
The patient in Washington told doctors that he had not visited the animal markets in Wuhan, nor had he come into contact with anyone who was sick.
On Monday, Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville changed its electronic prompts so that any patients coming in to its hospital, emergency room or clinics with a fever or respiratory symptoms will be asked whether they have been to China recently or have had contact with anyone who has recently traveled to China.
Hospitals around the country are likely taking similar steps, Dr. Schaffner said, in an effort to quickly identify infected patients and place them in isolation so they can be cared for safely by hospital workers, and so specimens can be collected for testing.
Dr. Schaffner cautioned anyone traveling to China to avoid visiting live animal markets and to keep a distance from all live animals, including domesticated farm animals. Travelers to China should practice lots of good hand hygiene, he added, and do their best to avoid anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Outbreak cases from new virus rises to 440 in China, with 9 dead
BEIJING (AP) — The number of cases of a new virus has risen to 440 in China and the death toll has risen to 9, Chinese health authorities said Wednesday.
Deputy Director of the National Health Commission Li Bin told reporters that the figures were current as of midnight Tuesday. All the deaths had been in Hubei province, home to Wuhan city where the first illnesses from coronavirus were reported in late December.
Li said that marked an increase of 149 confirmed cases. He said Japan and South Korea had confirmed one case each and Thailand three. The U.S. and Taiwan also confirmed one case each on Tuesday.
Concerned about a global outbreak similar to SARS, another coronavirus that spread from China to more than a dozen countries in 2002-2003, numerous nations have adopted screening measures for travelers from China, especially those arriving from Wuhan.
The worries have been heightened by the coming of the Lunar New Year holiday rush, when millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad.
Officials said it was too early to compare the new virus with SARS or MERS in terms of how lethal it might be. They attributed the spike in new cases to improvements in detection and monitoring.
I doubt it, but it would be a quick way of depopulation.
Edited to add Wuhan
Wuhan It is the largest city in Hubei and the most populous city in Central China, with a population of over 11 million, the seventh most populous Chinese city, and one of the nine National Central Cities of China.