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US testing 12 patients for deadly coronavirus including a Texas A&M University student

The second US case of deadly coronavirus has been confirmed in Chicago, Illinois, health officials say.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the patient is a 60-year-old woman who traveled to Wuhan, China, where the virus originated, in late December. 

She arrived at O’Hare International Airport on January 13 – meaning it has been 11 days since she returned to the US – but did not begin experiencing symptoms until several days later.

Health officials say the woman appears to be well and in stable condition. She is in isolation, but it is unclear which hospital she is at. 

The CDC said the woman did not have any travel companions and that her contacts since developing symptoms are believed to be limited to people in her household, who will also be monitored. 

It comes as health officials reveal they are testing 63 people in 22 states including two students, one at Texas A&M University, who had traveled from Wuhan and another student at Tennessee Tech University.

Doctors also announced that another 43 people came into contact with the first confirmed US patient, who is being quarantined in Washington state 

So far, 902 people people have fallen ill since December, mostly in China. As of Friday, 26 people have died.  

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The second US case of coronavirus has been confirmed in a 60-year-old woman who traveled to Chicago, Illinois, from Wuhan, China - where the virus originated. Pictured: Passengers wearing masks arrive at O'Hare International Airport, Thursday

The second US case of coronavirus has been confirmed in a 60-year-old woman who traveled to Chicago, Illinois, from Wuhan, China – where the virus originated. Pictured: Passengers wearing masks arrive at O’Hare International Airport, Thursday

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the woman traveled to Wuhan in late December and arrived back in the US on January 13. Pictured: Passengers wearing masks arrive at O'Hare International Airport, Thursday

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the woman traveled to Wuhan in late December and arrived back in the US on January 13. Pictured: Passengers wearing masks arrive at O’Hare International Airport, Thursday

Meanwhile, an additional 63 patients across 22 states are being tested for coronavirus. Pictured: Passengers from Asia and airline staff wearing masks at Los Angeles International Airport

Meanwhile, an additional 63 patients across 22 states are being tested for coronavirus. Pictured: Passengers from Asia and airline staff wearing masks at Los Angeles International Airport

In addition to the confirmed cases in Washington and Illinois, cases are suspected in California - particularly in the Bay Area and in Alameda County-  in Texas and in Tennessee

In addition to the confirmed cases in Washington and Illinois, cases are suspected in California – particularly in the Bay Area and in Alameda County-  in Texas and in Tennessee

The strain, known as 2019-nCov, is believed to have emerged from illegally traded wildlife at a seafood market in Wuhan. Pictured: Chief nurse Ma Jing holds a coronavirus patient's hand in the ICU Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan on Friday

The strain, known as 2019-nCov, is believed to have emerged from illegally traded wildlife at a seafood market in Wuhan. Pictured: Chief nurse Ma Jing holds a coronavirus patient’s hand in the ICU Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan on Friday 

Preliminary research suggests the virus was passed to humans from snakes or bats. Pictured: The coronavirus strain

But, this week, Chinese health officials reported that some cases have been caused by human-to-human transmission. Pictured: The coronavirus strain

Preliminary research suggests the virus was passed to humans from snakes or bats. But, this week, Chinese health officials reported that some cases have been caused by human-to-human transmission. Pictured, left and right: The coronavirus strain 

For the Texas A&M student, Brazos County Health District officials said the male student had ‘mild’ symptoms that resembled the coronavirus.

Results of tests will be announced to the public if the patient tests positive for coronavirus.

Officials said the patient is currently being kept isolated at home and that it is safe for student to attend classes. 

‘This patient did travel to the area of concern in China within the last 14 days and thankfully had mild upper respiratory symptoms, and he was improving,’ said Dr Eric Wilke with the Brazos County Health Department.

‘I believe the time the patient presented at the emergency department, it was more out of concern,’ said Dr. Eric Wilke with the Brazos County Health Department. 

WHEN ARE PATIENTS  CONTAGIOUS? 

CDC officials are not 100 percent clear on when coronavirus patients are contagious but have said they suspect an incubation period of two to 14 days from exposure. 

Officials have warned that patients are most contagious after they begin showing symptoms but the disease can spread at a ‘much lower rate’ when asymptomatic.  

In the case of the Washington state man, experts say he was unlikely to have transmitted the disease to anyone because he sought treatment immediately after showing symptoms. 

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Department of Health said they decided to test the student because had ‘very mild symptoms’ and had a recent concerning travel history that met the criteria for testing.

No results have been confirmed and the student is being kept in isolation. 

Los Angeles International Airport was also on high alert after a passenger who arrived on Wednesday was sent to hospital after he or she appeared to be ill.

The unnamed passenger arrived on an American Airlines flight from Mexico City around 7pm, reported CBS Los Angeles.

However, it remains unclear if the passenger is from Mexico City, or if they originated from another city. 

Several people in California, particularly in Alameda County and the Bay Area, are also being examined to see if they have the virus that resembles SARS. 

Another being tested is a student at Tennessee Tech University (pictured) who had a 'concerning' travel history, health officials said

Another being tested is a student at Tennessee Tech University (pictured) who had a ‘concerning’ travel history, health officials said 

One person being tested is a male student at Texas A&M University (pictured), who traveled to Wuhan, where the virus originated

One person being tested is a male student at Texas A&M University (pictured), who traveled to Wuhan, where the virus originated

CORONAVIRUS: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR 

What is this virus?

The virus has been identified as a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of pathogens, most of which cause mild respiratory infections such as the common cold.

But coronaviruses can also be deadly. SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is caused by a coronavirus and killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in the early 2000s.

Can it kill?

Yes. 26 people have so far died after testing positive for the virus. What are the symptoms?

Its symptoms are typically a fever, cough and trouble breathing, but some patients have developed pneumonia, a potentially life-threatening infection that causes inflammation of the small air sacs in the lungs. People carrying the novel coronavirus may only have mild symptoms, such as a sore throat. They may assume they have a common cold and not seek medical attention, experts fear.

How is it detected?

The virus’s genetic sequencing was released by scientists in China to the rest of the world to enable other countries to quickly diagnose potential new cases. This helps other countries respond quickly to disease outbreaks.

To contain the virus, airports are detecting infected people with temperature checks. But as with every virus, it has an incubation period, meaning detection is not always possible because symptoms have not appeared yet.

How did it start and spread?

The first cases identified were among people connected to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.

Cases have since been identified elsewhere which could have been spread through human-to-human transmission.

What are countries doing to prevent the spread?

Countries in Asia have stepped up airport surveillance. They include Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines.

Australia and the US are also screening patients for a high temperature, and the UK announced it will screen passengers returning from Wuhan.

Is it similar to anything we’ve ever seen before?

Experts have compared it to the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The epidemic started in southern China and killed more than 700 people in mainland China, Hong Kong and elsewhere

In light of recent developments, the US announced it is pulling most of its diplomats and their families from the consulate general in Wuhan and the State Department issued its strongest travel advisory warning of Level 4: Do Not Travel reserved for countries such as North Korea and Iran. 

The very first patient, who is being treated in Washington state, is also being kept in quarantine at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, outside of Seattle.  

The unidentified male, who is his 30s and lives in Snohomish County, had traveled by himself from Wuhan but did not visit any of the markets at the epicenter of the outbreak. 

He reportedly had no symptoms upon arrival in the US the virus but, after reading about the outbreak online and developing symptoms, he contacted his doctor.

The patient allegedly sought treatment on January 16 and was tested the following day.

Health officials said he was diagnosed with the virus on Monday, January 20, and is currently in stable condition, but still in quarantine.

Authorities have emphasized that risk to the public is low and said there was no reason to panic. 

To limit the spread of the virus the man is currently being treated by a few staff members and a robot.

The robot has a stethoscope attached to take the man’s vitals and a large screen so doctors can communicate with him, Dr George Diaz, chief of the infectious disease division at the Providence Regional Medical Center, told CNN.  

‘The nursing staff in the room move the robot around so we can see the patient in the screen, talk to him,’ Dr Diaz told the network.

It remains unclear when the patient will be discharged but the CDC will make the final call on that matter. 

‘They’re looking for ongoing presence of the virus. They’re looking to see when the patient is no longer contagious,’ Dr Diaz told CNN.

According to The Associated Press, nurses providing care to the patient had previously trained for Ebola patients. 

Their protective gear includes hoods with plastic face shields and respirators that circulate filtered air.

All disposable gloves and gowns, as well as linens, are being bagged until the CDC provides instructions on how to dispose of them.

‘We have been preparing for this since 2015,’ Robin Addison, one of the nurses and co-leader of the hospital’s biocontainment team told AP.  

Providence Regional Medical Center is one of approximately 150 US hospitals that can test patients with suspected contagious diseases that is provided training money by Congress. 

Arriving passengers from Asia, airline staff and airport staff at the Los Angeles International Airport take precautionary measures donning face masks

Arriving passengers from Asia, airline staff and airport staff at the Los Angeles International Airport take precautionary measures donning face masks 

The city of Wuhan is currently on lockdown, with no planes or trains allowed to leave the city and transportation within the city - including buses, subway and ferries - suspended. Pictured: A medical worker checks on a patient in the ICU of Zhongnan Hospital in Wuhan on Friday

The city of Wuhan is currently on lockdown, with no planes or trains allowed to leave the city and transportation within the city – including buses, subway and ferries – suspended. Pictured: A medical worker checks on a patient in the ICU of Zhongnan Hospital in Wuhan on Friday 

Celebrations scheduled for the Lunar New Year this weekend have been canceled in Beijing and Hong Kong. Pictured: Medical workers cheer for each other in the ICU of Zhongnan Hospital in Wuhan on Friday

Celebrations scheduled for the Lunar New Year this weekend have been canceled in Beijing and Hong Kong. Pictured: Medical workers cheer for each other in the ICU of Zhongnan Hospital in Wuhan on Friday 

So far, there are more than 900 cases - more than 800 of which are in China - worldwide, reaching as far as the US

So far, there are more than 900 cases – more than 800 of which are in China – worldwide, reaching as far as the US 

First reported in China in December 2019, the strain, known as 2019-nCov, is believed to have emerged from illegally traded wildlife at a seafood market in Wuhan, a city 700 miles south of the capital of Beijing.

While preliminary research suggests the virus was passed to humans from snakes, Chinese health officials reported this week that some cases have been caused by human-to-human transmission increasing the risk of it spreading.

In one example, one doctor and 13 nurses who were treating a neurosurgery patient unknown to be carrying the virus were all infected by it.

Aside from China, cases have been confirmed in Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and the US.  

Cases are also suspected in Mexico, Colombia, the Philippines, the UK and Australia. 

Experts say the difficulty of containing the coronavirus is that so many patients have mild, cold-like symptoms and don't realize they have the infection – but it can quickly turn deadly

Experts say the difficulty of containing the coronavirus is that so many patients have mild, cold-like symptoms and don’t realize they have the infection – but it can quickly turn deadly

Other developments in the outbreak today include: 

  • Chinese New Year celebrations planned for this weekend have been canceled in Beijing and Hong Kong 
  • An estimated 897 people around the world have been infected with coronavirus and 26 have died 
  • Japan confirmed its second case and a fifth patient has been diagnosed in Thailand 
  • Footage has emerged reportedly showing military personnel guarding a train station
  • Videos from inside hospitals show patients crammed into overcrowded corridors and laid on the floor 
  • Photos have emerged of Chinese construction workers starting urgent building of a new hospital in Wuhan 

The Wuhan coronavirus is believed to be milder than its cousin, SARS, and it takes longer for symptoms to appear. 

Almost all deaths of the Wuhan coronavirus occurred among older males who had pre-existing conditions.

There is no cure for the new virus or vaccine to prevent it, and the National Institutes of Health says research to develop a vaccine is in ‘very preliminary stages.’ 

 US STATE DEPARTMENT SAYS ‘DO NOT TRAVEL’ TO WUHAN

The US Department of State has issued its highest travel warning for Wuhan, advising Americans to not travel to the region.

Late on Thursday, officials update its warning from level 2, which means to exercise increased caution, to level 4, which suggests ‘do not travel.’

This puts the city of 11 million people on par with countries such as Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.

‘There is an ongoing outbreak of pneumonia first identified in Wuhan, China, caused by a novel (new) coronavirus,’ the advisory on the department’s website reads.

The US Department of State has issued its highest travel warning for Wuhan, advising Americans to not travel to the region. Pictured: A man wearing a mask at O'Hare Airport

The US Department of State has issued its highest travel warning for Wuhan, advising Americans to not travel to the region. Pictured: A man wearing a mask at O’Hare Airport

Officials updated its warning from level 2, which means to exercise increased caution, to level 4, which suggests 'do not travel.' Pictured: Travelers with masks at O'Hare Airport on Thursday

The CDC also issues its highest warning to level 3, which urges Americans to 'avoid unessential travel.' Pictured: Travelers with masks at O'Hare Airport on Thursday

Officials updated its warning from level 2, which means to exercise increased caution, to level 4, which suggests ‘do not travel.’ The CDC also issues its highest warning to level 3, which urges Americans to ‘avoid unessential travel.’ Pictured, left and right: Travelers with masks at O’Hare Airport on Thursday

‘In an effort to contain the novel coronavirus, the Chinese authorities have suspended air and rail travel in the area around Wuhan.’

China, as a whole, remains on a level 2 alert. 

Similarly, the CDC issued its highest travel warning for Wuhan, China due to concerns over the new, mysterious coronavirus.

On Thursday, the agency updated its warning from a level 2 alert which means ‘practice enhanced precautions’ to level 3, which urges Americans to ‘avoid unessential travel.’   

Public health entry screenings are currently taking place Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, John F Kennedy International Airport in New York and San Francisco International Airport. 

LOCKDOWN EXPANDS IN CHINA AS CORONAVIRUS SPREAS 

China expanded its lockdown on Friday to more than 36 million people in an attempt to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Transportation in and out of Wuhan has been shut down since xx, but at least 12 other cities in the Hubei province have also been shut down  

 

With authorities afraid that public gatherings will hasten the spread of the virus, temples locked their doors, Beijing’s Forbidden City, Shanghai Disneyland and other major tourist destinations closed, and people canceled restaurant reservations ahead of Lunar New Year, normally a time of family reunions, sightseeing trips, fireworks displays and other festivities in the country of 1.4 billion people.

Wuhan’s usually bustling streets, malls and other public spaces were unnervingly quiet on Day Two of its lockdown, and masks were mandatory in public. Shoppers emptied store shelves, stocking up for what could be an extended period of isolation. Karaoke bars, movie theaters and internet cafes around the region were shut down.

 

China expanded its lockdown against the deadly new virus to an unprecedented 36 million people and rushed to build a prefabricated, 1,000-bed hospital for victims Friday as the outbreak cast a pall over Lunar New Year, the country’s biggest, most festive holiday.

The number of confirmed cases around the world climbed sharply to more than 850, with at least 25 deaths, all of them in China.

The U.S. reported its second case, involving a Chicago woman in her 60s who was hospitalized after returning from China. She was reported to be doing well.

,Transportation was shut down in Wuhan, the city of 11 million at the epicenter of the outbreak, and in at least 12 other cities in central China’s Hubei province, encompassing a population bigger than that of New York, London, Paris and Moscow combined.

And authorities in Beijing and other cities canceled many public celebrations and other events marking Lunar New Year, which falls on Saturday.

Hospitals in Wuhan grappled with a flood of patients and a lack of supplies. Videos circulating online showed throngs of frantic people in masks lined up for examinations, and some complained that family members had been turned away at hospitals that were at capacity.

Authorities in Wuhan and elsewhere put out calls for medicine, disinfection equipment, masks, goggles, gowns and other protective gear.

Wuhan authorities said they are rapidly constructing a new hospital to deal with the crisis, to be completed Feb. 3. It will be modeled on a SARS hospital that was built in Beijing in just six days during the SARS outbreak.

The seriousness of the crisis was still an open question.

It was not clear just how lethal the virus is, or even whether it is as dangerous as ordinary flu, which kills tens of thousands of people every year in the U.S. alone. Scientists say it is also not clear if it spreads as easily as SARS, its genetic cousin, which also originated in China and killed about 800 people in 2002-03.

The rapid increase in reported deaths and illnesses does not necessarily mean the crisis is getting worse. It could instead reflect better monitoring and reporting of the newly discovered virus, whose symptoms can initially resemble those of the cold and flu, including cough, fever and shortness of breath, but can worsen to pneumonia.

‘It’s still too early to draw conclusions about how severe the virus is because at the beginning of any outbreak you would focus more on the severe cases,’ said Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesman for the World Health Organization in Geneva. ‘And then maybe we are missing some mild cases because people will just be a little bit sick and will not have it tested. And they will recover.’

With authorities afraid that public gatherings will hasten the spread of the virus, temples locked their doors, Beijing’s Forbidden City, Shanghai Disneyland and other major tourist destinations closed, and people canceled restaurant reservations ahead of Lunar New Year, normally a time of family reunions, sightseeing trips, fireworks displays and other festivities in the country of 1.4 billion people.

Wuhan’s usually bustling streets, malls and other public spaces were unnervingly quiet on Day Two of its lockdown, and masks were mandatory in public. Shoppers emptied store shelves, stocking up for what could be an extended period of isolation. Karaoke bars, movie theaters and internet cafes around the region were shut down.

While most of the deaths have been older patients, a 36-year-old man in Hubei died on Thursday.

The vast majority of cases have been in and around Wuhan or involved people who visited the city or had personal connections to those infected. Fewer than two dozen cases in all have been confirmed outside mainland China, in Hong Kong, Macao, the U.S., South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Many countries are screening travelers from China and isolating anyone with symptoms.

Chinese officials have not said how long the shutdowns of the cities will last.

Recalling the government’s initial cover-up of SARS, many Chinese are suspicious of the case numbers reported by officials. Authorities have promised transparency.

China’s cabinet, the State Council, announced it will be collecting information on government departments that have failed in their response to the outbreak, including ‘delays, concealment and under-reporting of the epidemic.’

The state broadcaster CCTV’s annual Spring Festival Gala program, which attracted more than 1 billion viewers last year, paid tribute to the medical workers fighting the outbreak.

‘Please believe in China,’ the hosts said. ‘With the most transparent public information … on the battlefront of the epidemic, we will definitely win.’

___

 

CHINA SAYS IT PLANS TO BUILD 1,000-BED HOSPITAL IN 10 DAYS

On Friday, China announced plans to build a 1,000-bed hospital in just 10 days that will be solely dedicated to treating coronavirus patients.

The hospital, which will be in Wuhan – the epicenter of the outbreak – is being modeled after Xiaotangshan Hospital, a temporary medical center that was built in Beijing to treat patients of the SARS outbreak from 2002 to 2004.

The new hospital is expected to be completed and open on February 3.

It comes after dozens of videos have circulated on social media of overcrowded hospitals where patients line hallways from wall to wall.

On China’s Twitter-like platform, Weibo, dozens said they or family members had gone to hospitals to get tested but were turned away because staff said they were at capacity.

According to the Associated Press, at least eight hospitals in Wuhan have asked for donations of protective medical gear such as masks, googles and gowns. 

 EXPERTS FEAR IT’S TOO LATE FOR A LOCKDOWN OF CHINA

China has been taking unprecedented measures in an effort to stop the new coronavirus from spreading, but experts fear it may be too late.

KILLER VIRUS MAY HAVE COME FROM BATS, SCIENTISTS SAY 

The killer coronavirus sweeping across the world may have come from bats, scientists have said.

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the People’s Liberation Army and Institut Pasteur of Shanghai came to the conclusion.

In a statement, the team said: ‘The Wuhan coronavirus’ natural host could be bats… but between bats and humans there may be an unknown intermediate.

Tests of the virus, which has yet to be named, have revealed it targets a protein called ACE2 – just like its cousin SARS, the South China Morning Post reported.

Tracing the evolution of the virus, the team of experts found it belonged to betacoronavirus, making it structurally similar to SARS.

Authorities have pointed the blame on food markets in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak that scientists are scrambling to contain.

Rodents and bats among other animals are slaughtered and sold in traditional ‘wet markets’, which tourists flock to see the ‘real’ side of the country.

On Thursday, authorities announced that planes, trains and buses leaving Wuhan were canceled. Tollways on roads out of the city were also shut down. 

Additionally, all public transportation within the city would be suspended, including buses, subways and ferries.

China has also closed several tourism attractions and cultural sites including Beijing’s Forbidden City, which saw 19 million visitors last year.

City authorities also canceled Lunar New Year events in the nation’s capital as well as temple fairs ‘to strengthen prevention and support’.   

With the deadly virus reaching so many cities in China and so many countries abroad in such a short time frame, many fear measures came too little too late.

‘I think we have passed the golden period of control and prevention,’ Guan Yi, an expert on viruses at Hong Kong University, told Agence France-Presse.  

Yi, who left Wuhan ahead of the lockdown, said many people left ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which began Friday.

He says many residents could have been incubating the virus ‘on their way out of Wuhan.’  

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