The patient, a woman in her 60s and a Chicago resident, had traveled to Wuhan, China, in late December. She was admitted to the hospital and is in stable condition, according to Illinois health officials.
The patient called her doctor ahead of time before seeking treatment and has not taken public transportation or attended any large gatherings, Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health said Friday.
“This is a single travel-associated case. Not a local emergency,” Arwady said. “There is no need for the general public to change their behavior in any way based on this news.”
“We understand that some people are worried about this virus and how it may impact Americans,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said at a Friday news briefing.
“The immediate risk to the U.S. public is low at this time,” Messonnier said.
Sixty-three people in the U.S. from 22 states are being evaluated to determine if they have coronavirus. Of those individuals, 11 have tested negative and two have tested positive for the virus. In New York State, four people are being tested for coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news briefing Friday. Of those four, one individual tested negative for the virus and three others are waiting for diagnostic test results.
Patient samples are currently being tested at the CDC in Atlanta, and health officials are working to get those tests to states, which would speed diagnosis times.
As of Jan. 23, roughly 2,000 passengers entering the country had been screened at airports. No cases of coronavirus have been detected from the airport screenings so far.
A total of 830 cases of the coronavirus have been reported to date in China. In addition, China’s National Health Commission reports that three cases have been reported in Thailand, two have been reported in Vietnam, and one case apiece has been reported in Japan, Singapore and South Korea.
Hospitals in Wuhan overwhelmed by influx of patients
Hospitals in China are scrambling to treat the large influx of patients seeking treatment. “Shortage of medical supplies, request help!” Wuhan’s Children’s Hospital posted on Weibo, China’s social network, in a plea for items like surgical masks, disposable clothing, gloves and goggles. Several other hospitals have posted similar requests.
In the meantime, Wuhan broke ground on a brand new, 1,000-bed hospital to address the outbreak, expected to be completed by Feb. 3. The city is following in the footsteps of Beijing, where a similar fast-tracked hospital was built to address the 2003 SARS outbreak.
U.S. State Department issues China travel warning
This announcement comes as the U.S. State Department is warning Americans not to enter China’s Hubei province due to the coronavirus, as Chinese authorities announced Thursday that the death toll from the virus has increased to 25.
The U.S. is also pulling out most of its diplomats and their families from the consulate general in Wuhan, the Hubei city of 11 million where cases of the new virus were first discovered.
The State Department issued a new travel advisory late Thursday, declaring the Hubei region Level 4, Do Not Travel, the strongest of the four travel warning levels issued by the U.S. government. That puts it on par with hot spots and war zones like North Korea, Syria, and Iran.
China’s National Health Commission announced Thursday that the death toll from the virus has increased to 25 from the previously-reported total of 17.
The additional eight deaths included China’s first death outside the central Hubei province, where an 80-year-old man died in the northern province of Hebei after returning there following a two-month stay in Wuhan, according to The Associated Press.
The health agency said that in addition to the eight new deaths, 259 new confirmed cases had been reported in 27 provinces across China, with six new cases cured and discharged.
In response to the virus, officials at Shanghai Disneyland said that the giant theme park would close until further notice “in order to ensure the health and safety of our guests.” The move comes during one of the park’s busiest weeks of the year.
The park, located in Pudong, Shanghai, is about a two-hour flight from Wuhan.
The U.S. State Department says China itself remains on travel advisory Level 2, Exercise Increased Caution, because of arbitrary detentions and law enforcement concerns, including the so-called exit bans where U.S. citizens are prevented from leaving the country, often for the government to gain leverage over relatives that it is after.
A senior State Department official said the U.S. had seen “positive signs” in China’s response to stem the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, but added that China has lacked transparency in the past and has shown it can be more preoccupied with saving face publicly than admitting and treating the problem.
“We’re concerned, but cautiously optimistic,” the official said.
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