Latest Infectious Disease News
TUESDAY, Feb. 11, 2020 (HealthDay News) — More than 1,000 deaths and close to 43,000 illnesses have now been confirmed in the coronavirus outbreak that continues to rage in China, while a 13th U.S. case was reported late Monday.
Those totals far exceed the toll of the 2003 SARS outbreak, in which 8,098 were infected and 774 died worldwide, the Associated Press reported.
The latest American case involved one of the hundreds of evacuees who were sent to four military bases and quarantined in the past two weeks. That patient is now in isolation in a hospital near March Air Reserve Base in San Diego, the Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile, the first group of 195 evacuees, who were flown out of Wuhan, China, on Jan. 29, have been cleared from their quarantine, the AP reported. More than 500 Americans who were evacuated last Thursday remain under quarantine, the news service said.
But the United States isn’t the only place where Americans are under quarantine or infected in the coronavirus outbreak.
A total of 23 Americans onboard a quarantined cruise ship in Japan have also tested positive for the virus, according to the AP. So far, a total of 136 passengers on the Diamond Princess, docked in Yokohama, Japan, have confirmed illness and 600 of the 3,711 passengers have requested medications.
Late last week, a 60-year-old man living in Wuhan, China, became the first American citizen to die from the new coronavirus that first surfaced in that Chinese city.
The man, whose name has not been disclosed, died last Thursday at Jinyintian Hospital in Wuhan, the U.S. Embassy in China said Saturday.
It’s not clear why the man was not able to leave Wuhan on one of a number of U.S. State Department evacuation flights that brought hundreds of Americans to the United States over the past week, but he may have already been too ill to fly.
Last week, the United States began to bar entry to any foreigners who have recently traveled to China. U.S. citizens who have recently traveled to the Hubei province of China, where Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, is located, will be quarantined for up to 14 days, U.S. health officials said. U.S. citizens who have recently traveled to other parts of China will face health screenings and voluntary quarantines of up to 14 days.
Many U.S. citizens have already fled China. Over the past two weeks, five flights have evacuated a total of about 840 Americans from China, according to the U.S. State Department.
“The measures we are taking may not catch every single returning traveler with this novel coronavirus, given the nature of this virus and how it’s spreading,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the U.S. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a media briefing last week. “But if we can catch the majority of them, that will slow the entry of this virus into the United States.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced recently that it had fast-tracked a test for the virus in an effort to help speed screening efforts.
“Today, the test kits will start shipping to over 100 U.S. public health labs,” Messonnier said during a media briefing last week. “Initially, 200 test kits will be distributed to U.S. domestic laboratories, and another 200 will be distributed to selected international laboratories. Each test kit can perform 700 to 800 patient samples.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the American actions were taken because there are “a lot of unknowns” surrounding the virus and its transmission path, the New York Times reported.
“The number of cases have steeply inclined with every day,” Fauci noted.
The temporary entry ban applies to foreign nationals, with the exception of relatives of citizens and permanent residents.
The World Health Organization has already declared the new coronavirus outbreak an international public health emergency, and the agency announced Tuesday it will be gathering experts from around the world for a meeting on how to fast-track medicines and vaccines to try to stem the outbreak.
Experts fear the outbreak could become a pandemic, where there are outbreaks on more than one continent.
— Robert Preidt
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SOURCES: Feb. 5, 2020, media briefing with: Nancy Messonnier, M.D., director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; The Washington Post; The New York Times; CNN; Associated Press