News, Culture & Society

20 US airports will now screen for coronavirus

US health officials say that 20 airports across the country will now screen for the deadly coronavirus that has spread from China.

Five airports in California, Georgia, Illinois and New York are already screening travelers, but authorities from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a press conference on Tuesday that they will begin trying to identify sick passengers from China at 15 other ‘quarantine stations.’ 

Since the outbreak began in December in the city of Wuhan, more than 4,500 people have been sickened by coronavirus in at least 17 countries and territories and 106 people, all in China, have died.

Five people in the US have fallen ill already and officials say there is evidence of human-to-human transmission, and that patients may spread the virus before symptoms appear 

Dr Anthony Fauci, of the National Institutes of Health, say the agency is working on several drugs to try treat coronavirus patients despite no proof of the efficacy of these drugs.

He added that while research for a vaccine  is being worked on based on experience from the similar SARS outbreak of 2002 and MERS outbreak of 2012, an immunization will not be available for several months. 

As of Monday, there are five confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US and 110 patients are being tested across the country 

Nearly, 3,000 people have been infected globally with the virus traced to a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife

Nearly, 3,000 people have been infected globally with the virus traced to a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife

Red tape could slow down the testing process for 110 possible American cases of the coronavirus across 26 states and dozens of others in the future. 

On Monday, the CDC said the number of US cases had not increased but that they expect to test a growing number of potential patients in the coming days and weeks.

Five cases have been confirmed in the US so far. However, because the CDC’s laboratory in Atlanta, Georgia, is the only place in the country currently equipped with a blood test that accurately diagnoses the virus, the true number of infected people could be higher.

The federal health lab’s test is fast – taking just four to six hours – but it’s prioritizing only the sickest-seeming patients.

So far, there have been 32 patients confirmed negative, but the testing process could be bottlenecked until the CDC and FDA can work around the bureaucracy that prevents the test from being distributed throughout the country.

To that end, last week, the CDC requested emergency authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration  for the tests to be sent to the states.

‘Part of the delay is the sample getting to CDC, and entirely one of the reasons we are focusing on the possibility of getting those tests out closer to the patients so the results can become available more quickly,’ Dr Nancy Messonnier, director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said in a call to reporters last week.   

It comes on the heels of news that two New Hampshire travelers who just returned from Wuhan – the epicenter oft the outbreak – are in isolation after developing respiratory problems.  

Officials said if tests come back positive, they will share that information with the public. 

‘The risk to our communities in New Hampshire is low, but we want to identify people who may be infected with this new coronavirus in order to prevent spread,’ Dr Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist, said in a statement. 

‘We have recommended that health care providers conduct travel screenings and implement isolation practices for patients with a fever or respiratory illness who report travel to this affected region of China. This is a rapidly changing situation, and we remain committed to providing timely updates to residents of New Hampshire and our health care providers.’

But travelers continue to trickle in from Wuhan to the US due to ‘extended itineraries,’ Dr Messonnier said on Monday.

They’ve all been redirected through the five US airports with screening set up, but sick passengers who haven’t developed symptoms are unlikely to be detected, and it may take a long time to diagnose mild cases, like the illnesses of the two New Hampshire residents currently in isolation after returning from Wuhan.

‘These people have more mild illness, but both sought healthcare for their illnesses and are recovering,” the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services said.

‘They remain isolated until test results are available.’

As of Monday, the five confirmed cases were in Maricopa County, Arizona; Orange County and Los Angeles County, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Snohomish County, Washington. A sixth case, in a Chinese exchange student in Philadelphia who began to feel ill this week, is suspected, but has not been confirmed by local or CDC officials. 

The CDC said that it will continue to test the close contacts of confirmed patients but, so far, there has been no evidence of human-to-human transmission in the US, suggesting that close contacts have not tested positive.   

The CDC expanded its travel warning to the Hubei province – not just the city of Wuhan – saying travel is ‘unnecessary’ and warns all who do to exercise enhanced precaution. Travel to China has not yet been advised against, but officials warned that it could come. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk to the American public is 'low' but the World Health Organization says the global risk is 'high'. Pictured: Members of a military medical team head for Wuhan Jinyintan on Sunday

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk to the American public is ‘low’ but the World Health Organization says the global risk is ‘high’. Pictured: Members of a military medical team head for Wuhan Jinyintan on Sunday 

There are nearly 2,900 confirmed cases of the virus in 13 countries around the world and 82 dead - all in China. Pictured: Medical staff wearing protective clothing to protect against a previously unknown coronavirus arrive with a patient at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital

There are nearly 2,900 confirmed cases of the virus in 13 countries around the world and 82 dead – all in China. Pictured: Medical staff wearing protective clothing to protect against a previously unknown coronavirus arrive with a patient at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital

China's health minister warned on Sunday that infected people can spread the virus before showing symptoms. Pictured: Paramilitary officers wearing face masks at Tiananmen Gate in Beijing on Monday

China’s health minister warned on Sunday that infected people can spread the virus before showing symptoms. Pictured: Paramilitary officers wearing face masks at Tiananmen Gate in Beijing on Monday 

On Monday, the World Health Organization said in previous reports it had incorrectly identified the global risk of coronavirus as 'moderate' instead of 'high'. Pictured: Medical staff in Wuhan wear protective clothing and escort a patient (second from left) to a hospital

On Monday, the World Health Organization said in previous reports it had incorrectly identified the global risk of coronavirus as ‘moderate’ instead of ‘high’. Pictured: Medical staff in Wuhan wear protective clothing and escort a patient (second from left) to a hospital

Travelers are screened on a thermographic monitor at the Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport in Aceh Besar Regency in Indonesia for coronavirus on Monday

Travelers are screened on a thermographic monitor at the Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport in Aceh Besar Regency in Indonesia for coronavirus on Monday 

But travelers continue to trickle in from Wuhan to the US due to ‘extended itineraries,’ Dr Messonnier said on Monday. They’ve all been redirected through the five US airports with screening set up, but sick passengers who haven’t developed symptoms are unlikely to be detected, and it may take a long time to diagnose mild cases. 

The CDC says it is currently prioritizing cases that are the most severe, meaning there may be early-stage cases that have fallen to ‘back of the line’ and patients that may be contagious and spread the virus before getting an official diagnosis.  

change student at William Penn Charter School in East Falls reported feeling unwell at the end of last week.

According to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, an 18-student exchange group, escorted by three chaperones, travelled via plane from a local airport to Wuhan – the city where the virus originated – on January 16.

From there, the group took a direct flight to John F Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

The school says the student’s symptoms have not worsened and that he or she is now feeling better. 

‘Health officials have informed the school that the exposure time in Wuhan was limited and it is important to know that many other common respiratory viruses are circulating in China and here in the United States at this time, so the student’s illness is more likely to be caused by one of those viruses,’ the school told CBS 3 Philly in a statement.      

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.    

Aside from China and the US, cases have been confirmed in Australia, Cambodia, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

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

On Monday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) admitted that it made an error in its assessment of the global risk of coronavirus and that it is ‘high’, not ‘moderate.’

The agency said it had published reports on Thursday, Friday and Saturday that the global risk was ‘moderate’.

But spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said that there had been ‘an error in the wording’ and that its wording was ‘incorrect’.

In a situation report published on Sunday, the WHO said the risk was ‘very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the global level.’ 

On Monday, Mongolia announced it was closing its border with China, while Hong Kong and Malaysia announced they would bar entry to visitors from the Chinese province of Hubei, which is at the center of the outbreak.

Members of the medical team communicate with a coronavirus patient at Hankou Hospital in Wuhan on Monday

Members of the medical team communicate with a coronavirus patient at Hankou Hospital in Wuhan on Monday 

Police patrol a neighborhood in Wuhan, China s the virus continues to spread around the globe

Police patrol a neighborhood in Wuhan, China s the virus continues to spread around the globe

View of an empty Sanlitun area after the Chinese government discouraged public gatherings due to the coronavirus outbreak, in Beijing, China on Monday

View of an empty Sanlitun area after the Chinese government discouraged public gatherings due to the coronavirus outbreak, in Beijing, China on Monday

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

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

US STOCKS TUMBLE AND DOW FALLS MORE THAN 400 POINTS AMID CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

US stocks tumbled following China announcing a sharp rise in cases of a deadly new virus that threatens to crimp global economic growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DOW) and S&P 500 each fell more than one percent, giving up a significant portion of their gains for January. 

Airlines, resorts and other companies that rely on travel and tourism suffered steep losses. Gold prices rose as did bonds as investors headed for safer holdings. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.61 percent, its lowest level since October.

Investors are in a ‘sell first, ask questions later situation,’ said Alec Young, managing director of global markets research at FTSE Russell.

Most markets in Asia were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, but Japan´s Nikkei fell 2.03 percent, its biggest decline in five months. European markets also slumped. Germany´s DAX dove 2.6 percent. 

Global health authorities are increasingly on alert for any new coronavirus cases. Besides the threat to people’s lives and health, investors are worried about how much damage the virus will do to profits for companies around the world. 

‘Markets hate uncertainty, and the coronavirus is the ultimate uncertainty in that no one knows how badly it will impact the global economy,’ Young said.

Resort operators are reeling as the lockdowns in China directly threaten their businesses. Wynn Resorts fell 6.3 percent and Las Vegas Sands shed 6.6 percent. 

Those companies get the majority of their revenue from the Chinese gambling haven of Macao, where five cases have been confirmed. MGM Resorts fell 3.8 percent.

American Airlines fell 6.7 percent and Delta slipped 3.9 percent as part of a broad slide for airlines because of concerns international travel will decline amid the spread of the virus

Booking companies and cruise-line operators are also getting hurt. Expedia Group fell 3.5 percent and Carnival fell 3.7 percent. 

News of the evacuation came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide jumped to 1,396 on Saturday morning, including 42 fatalities. Patients are seen undergoing treatment at Wuhan Central Hospital

News of the evacuation came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide jumped to 1,396 on Saturday morning, including 42 fatalities. Patients are seen undergoing treatment at Wuhan Central Hospital

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Monday (pictured)  as US stocks tumbled following China announcing a sharp rise in cases of a deadly new virus th

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Monday (pictured)  as US stocks tumbled following China announcing a sharp rise in cases of a deadly new virus th

US GOVERNMENT WARNS IT CANNOT EVACUATE ALL CITIZENS FROM WUHAN 

News of the increased number of North American cases came as the US government warned it won’t have enough seats on a rescue plane to evacuate all US citizens from Wuhan.

The US consulate is reaching out to all Americans registered as living in Wuhan to offer them a seat on a charter flight scheduled for Tuesday.   

A source familiar with the chartered evacuation flight told CNN that roughly 1,000 Americans live in the city, and those who choose to leave will be forced to pay for their spot on the Boeing 767 jet, which carries around 230 people. 

The State Department released a statement late on Saturday which read: ‘The Department of State is making arrangements to relocate its personnel stationed at the US Consulate General in Wuhan to the United States.

‘We anticipate that there will be limited capacity to transport private US citizens on a reimbursable basis on a single flight leaving Wuhan Tianhe International Airport on January 28, 2020 and proceeding directly to San Francisco.’

Since space is limited, the government says that ‘priority will be given to individuals at greater risk from coronavirus’.

The State Department announced (pictured) that it is evacuating US citizens from Wuhan on Tuesday

The State Department announced (pictured) that it is evacuating US citizens from Wuhan on Tuesday

The US evacuation was first reported by the The Wall Street Journal, citing an official source.    

However, another source who spoke to CNN disputed the Journal’s claim that any available seats may be offered to non-US citizens and diplomats from other countries, saying that non-US citizens would only be allowed onboard if they are related or married to Americans.  

It is understood medical personnel will be on the flight to care for anyone who may have been infected by the virus and prevent it from spreading. 

The CDC has said it is involved in the efforts to help Americans leave Wuhan.  

‘Department of State has the lead for the safe and expedient ordered departure of all US citizens from Wuhan, China,’ CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told CNN. ‘CDC is aware and coordinating in the planning.’

Horrifying videos posted to social media show chaos at hospitals and doctors collapsing on the floor in Wuhan as Chinese authorities struggle to gain control of the epidemic. 

Washington was given approval for the operation from China’s Foreign Ministry and other government agencies following negotiations in recent days. 

The US also plans to temporarily shut its Wuhan consulate, it said.  

Meanwhile, closer to home, a Canadian hospital has confirmed the country’s first case of the deadly Chinese coronavirus, as officials in the United States said they had identified two confirmed cases and are monitoring dozens of other potential diagnoses.

People wear masks at the arrival hall at the international terminal of Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Saturday

People wear masks at the arrival hall at the international terminal of Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Saturday

More passengers are seen wearing masks after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport from Asian, China, on Friday

More passengers are seen wearing masks after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport from Asian, China, on Friday

HEALTH OFFICIALS INVESTIGATE 110 CASES IN THE US 

It appears that all of the US patients currently awaiting test results showed symptoms consistent with the virus – such as fever, cough and runny nose – had either visited Wuhan recently or were in contact with someone who visited the city.

CONFIRMED US CORONAVIRUS CASES 

1. Man in Washington state

The first US coronavirus case was confirmed on Tuesday, January 21. 

The patient – a Washington man in his 30s who lives in Snohomish County – has been quarantined at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, outside of Seattle.  

The man 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 on January 15, 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. 

He is said to be in stable condition. He is being treated in a bio-containment room by a few staff members and a robot to limit the spread of the virus. 

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.

Officials have also been monitoring more than a dozen people the man reportedly came into contact with in the five days between when he arrived back in the US and when he was diagnosed.  

2. Woman in Chicago

The CDC confirmed the second US case on Friday – a 60-year-old woman in Chicago, Illinois, who had traveled to Wuhan in late December.  

The woman, who has not been named, arrived at O’Hare International Airport on January 13 but did not begin experiencing symptoms until several days later.

Health officials say the woman appears to be ‘well’ and in stable condition. 

The unidentified patient is currently in isolation at St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. 

 3. Patient in California

Orange County Health Care Agency announced that a patient in California had tested positive for novel coronavirus.  

The agency said the patient had traveled from Wuhan and reached out to the health care agency prior to being diagnosed. They were given guidance to avoiding exposing the public to the virus while waiting for test results.  

‘The individual has now been transported to a local hospital and is in isolation in good condition,’ added the agency who did not identify the patient. ‘In consultation with the CDC and the California Department of Public Health, the HCA is following up directly with all individuals who have had close contact with the case and are at risk of infection.’

4. Los Angeles County Case

Health officials say that the Los Angeles County patient, had recently returned from the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, China. 

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said that the infected person presented themselves for testing after feeling unwell, and are ‘currently receiving medical treatment’.

5. Arizona Case

Officials confirmed a fifth case in Maricopa County, Arizona. No other information was immediately reported about the patient. 

Those patients are believed to have all been isolated either in hospitals or in their homes to reduce the risk of exposing others. 

US health officials warned on Friday that the flu or other respiratory illnesses could complicate efforts to identify additional cases. 

‘We’re really working to understand the full spectrum of the illness with this coronavirus,’ Dr Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Messonnier, said at a briefing. 

‘The problem with this time of year is it’s cold and flu season and there are lots of cold and respiratory infections circulating.’

The CDC recommended that anyone with symptoms contact a health-care provider before seeking treatment so the appropriate precautionary measures can be put in place. 

The agency is trying to expedite screenings by providing up tests to state health officials.  

It currently takes the CDC about four to six hours to make a diagnosis once a sample arrives at its lab. 

Two people from Minnesota and three people from Michigan are currently being tested.

The patients from Michigan have reportedly agreed to remain in isolation until their tests results return, the Detroit Free Press reported. 

Also being monitored are two college students, one from Texas A&M University and another from Tennessee Tech University.

The Tennessee Department of Health said it decided to test the TTU student because he or she 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.

For the Texas student, Brazos County Health District officials said the male had ‘mild’ symptoms that resembled the coronavirus and had traveled to Wuhan recently.

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.  

Medical supply stores around the Brazos Valley, where Texas A&M is located, are reportedly experiencing a medical mask shortage after the possible case was reported.  

Genese Smith, who works at MediCare Equipment in Bryan, just a few miles off campus, told KBTX that an influx of customers came to the store looking for masks on Thursday.  

‘Within about 30 minutes of word getting out, we started getting phone calls asking if we have the masks, what kind of masks did we have, and how many we had available,’ Smith said. ‘Quite a few people started coming in, asking, and purchasing.’

Smith said the store typically stocks about 50 masks but has already ordered more.  

Other stores in the area, including Texas A&M’s Health Services Department, are also awaiting new shipments of masks after their current stocks ran out, per KBTX.  

In California, Los Angeles International Airport has been 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, CBS Los Angeles reported.

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

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

On Friday, North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services also reported that it is investigating a case.

The suspected patient arrived at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on January 23 after having traveled to Wuhan but not to the seafood market to which many early cases have been linked, according to a news release.

Four other potential cases are also under investigation in New York state.  

In Colorado, a patient with respiratory symptoms was placed in isolation at Lakewood’s Centura – St Anthony Hospital after they were found to have recently traveled to Wuhan.  

In Washington state, where the first US case was confirmed, the Northwest Chinese school in Bellevue called off weekend classes for preschoolers through adults amid concerns about the virus. 

‘We take the health of our students and families very seriously and think that this is the best course of action,’ officials wrote in an email announcing the cancelled classes.

On the University of Washington’s Seattle campus, a Chinese student association has been distributing face masks and asking students to contribute to efforts to send supplies such as face masks and protective suits to China. 

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.  

So far, 2,400 people have been screened from Hubei province and the CDC is continuing to track airline passengers who took connecting flights now that direct flights are no longer available. 

The screening begins with a survey to determine whether a traveler shows possible coronavirus symptoms and whether they visited the meat or seafood markets in Wuhan that have been tied to the outbreak.  

If they appear to have any symptoms associated with coronavirus, travelers are taken to on-site triage for further examination and a temperature check.

On Monday, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the city will be activating its emergency operations center in case any coronavirus patients are confirmed to be in the Bay Area, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

Screenings are also in place at Los Angeles International Airport. A staff member is seen wearing a face mask at LAX on Frida

Screenings are also in place at Los Angeles International Airport. A staff member is seen wearing a face mask at LAX on Frida

Dramatic video showed people collapsing on sidewalks in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak originated

Medics attend to a collapsed person on a Wuhan sidewalk

Dramatic video showed people collapsing on sidewalks in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak originated 

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 Chinese health officials report that cases have been caused by human-to-human transmission. Pictured, left and right: The coronavirus strain 

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. Seventeen 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.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.