CDC to Announce First Case of Wuhan Coronavirus Found in US
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to announce today the first case of Wuhan coronavirus in the United States, in Washington state, CNN reports, citing “a federal source outside the CDC.”
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“It is unclear if this person recently traveled to China, where and how they became infected, and if this person has transmitted the virus to anyone else in the United States,” CNN added.
The discovery in China and spread of the new deadly coronavirus has prompted World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to convene an Emergency Committee meeting on Wednesday.
The aim of the meeting “will be to ascertain whether the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) constitutes a public health emergency of international concern and what recommendations should be made to manage the outbreak.”
So far, six people have died and almost 300 have been infected by the virus, the Chinese National Health Commission announced Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. The coronavirus was originally found in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Officials Grew Concerned when Scientists Determined Coronavirus Spreads from Human to Human
Health officials in the United States, China and elsewhere grew increasingly concerned about the spread of the virus when scientists determined that it could be passed from human to human. “Widening public health measures are intended to prevent a repeat of the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS, another coronavirus that started in China and killed nearly 800 people,” AP recalled.
The new coronavirus has already spread to South Korea, Thailand and Japan. These countries have established screening procedures that include checking the body temperature of all airline passengers arriving from China before they can exit their aircraft. The four affected Asian countries are encouraging everyone to wear a mask over their nose and mouth.
Passengers on flights from Wuhan to the three major international airports in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco are also undergoing screening. The CDC has developed a test to detect the new coronavirus and plans to share the tool with domestic and international partners, AP said.
CDC Says Wuhan Coronavirus Health Risk to Americans Is Currently Low
Before today’s expected announcement, the CDC had termed its response “proactive preparedness precautions” and said that, based on current information, “the immediate health risk…to the general American public is deemed to be low at this time.”
Chinese health authorities are particularly worried about the potential for a widescale epidemic as the nation prepares to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday on Saturday, January 25. Hundreds of millions of Chinese will be traveling on that day.
“It’s the largest annual human migration on Earth,” CNN said. Last year, almost seven million Chinese traveled abroad for the Lunar New Year. People from all across the country “will cram themselves into homebound trains, buses and planes for family reunions,” the news agency added.
Now, Virus Outbreaks Can Rapidly Spread Internationally
"One of the consequences of a more connected world is that outbreaks have the potential to spread internationally much more rapidly than was the case 50 years ago," Mike Turner, director of science at the Wellcome Trust, a UK-based global health charity, told CNN.
WHO says that early signs of the virus include fever, fatigue, sore throat and dry cough. As the illness progress, patients may experience difficulty breathing. WHO notes, “There are no specific treatments for coronaviruses – just as there is no treatment for the common cold.”