CDC says the virus is not spreading in U.S. despite 110 cases being tested
By Terry Miller
According to the Los Angeles Times, the coronavirus infecting two individuals in Los Angeles and Orange counties was the same strain as the one that has spread to more than 2,700 people in 14 countries and territories and caused 80 deaths since it was discovered late last month in central China. Three other cases have been diagnosed in the U.S., one each in Arizona, Washington state and Chicago.
According to government officials in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
In Davos, Jan. 22, President Trump was asked if the U.S. has a plan to contain the virus. “We do have a plan, and we think it’s going to be handled very well. We’ve already handled it very well. CDC has been terrific. Very great professionals. And we’re in very good shape. And I think China is in very good shape also.”
Chinese officials don’t necessarily agree with such broad statements from the president.
The CDC and Homeland Security started screening passengers flying to major U.S. airports from China for the disease over the weekend. The World Health Organization convened an emergency meeting in Geneva on Wednesday to assess the severity of the illness and issue recommendations to control the outbreak.
U.S. companies have started restricting travel to China as a result of the outbreak. GM has placed a temporary restriction on travel to the Chinese city where the outbreak emerged over the holidays. Ford Motor “has suspended all business travel to Wuhan, specifically, and is monitoring the situation very closely.”
“Fears that the coronavirus could disrupt travel and commerce and slow economic growth sent a chill through global risk markets,” according to a CNBC report.
Wuhan, a city with 11 million residents, closed the area’s outgoing airport and railway stations, and suspended all public transport.
Meanwhile, the CEO of AstraZeneca (pharma) says the virus in China “looks like it’s contained.”
Chinese authorities identified the new coronavirus, which has resulted in more than a thousand confirmed cases in China, including cases outside Wuhan City.
As of Jan. 27, 26 states have people under investigation for the possibility of having contracted coronavirus in the U.S. There have been, thus far, five positive; 32 negative and 73 pending as of Monday morning.
Although the transmission dynamics have yet to be determined, CDC currently recommends a cautious approach to patients under investigation for 2019 novel coronavirus. Such patients should be asked to wear a surgical mask as soon as they are identified and be evaluated in a private room with the door closed, ideally an airborne infection isolation room if available. Healthcare personnel entering the room should use standard precautions, contact precautions, airborne precautions, and use eye protection (e.g., goggles or a face shield). The healthcare facility’s infection control personnel and local health department should immediately be notified.
With a large demographic of Chinese Americans in the San Gabriel Valley, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of people wearing face masks in Los Angeles County in an effort to prevent any spread of the disease. Additionally, it has been noted that some restaurants in Alhambra specifically, have taken to asking their patrons to submit to a temperature test. Yes, it has been noted that one restaurant in particular is taking customers’ temperatures as they enter to ensure there is no fever.
Travel bans in China are increasing and cities are literally sealed off for fear of spreading the disease. On Sunday, Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang said that 5 million people had left the city before travel restrictions were imposed ahead of the Chinese New Year. He warned that he expected at least 1,000 of some 3,000 suspected cases to be diagnosed with the virus.
In an effort to ensure that people displaying symptoms come forward, the director of China’s National Health Commission said that the patients would not have to foot the bill of any medical costs. The virus is believed to have originated at a food market; the youngest person to die of the illness was a nine-month-old baby girl.
Infections also have been confirmed in France, South Korea, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan and Canada.
Adam Taylor wrote in The Washington Post: “As Chinese officials widened a travel ban in recent days in an effort to control the virus, concerns emerged that the quarantine may not be effective. Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, said China’s ability to implement such a dramatic ban on movement ‘might be an example of resilience of the authoritarian state, especially in a crisis setting, but there is no strong evidence supporting that the approach will be effective.’”
The CDC said Monday there were no new confirmed cases of coronavirus overnight and added that the virus is not spreading within communities in the United States and that the immediate health risk to the general public is low.