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First US case of Wuhan virus diagnosed


First US case of Wuhan virus diagnosed 

Chinese people wear masks on a street in Beijing, China, 21 January 2020. More cases of the mysterious SARS-like virus linked to the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak were reported in China on 20 January 2020. EFE/EPA/WU HONG

New York, Jan 21 (efe-epa).- A patient in Washington state has been diagnosed with the Wuhan virus, or coronavirus, in the first confirmed case of this type of pneumonia in the United States, an outbreak that has already killed six people and infected hundreds in China.

The affected person was hospitalized last week after experiencing symptoms of pneumonia and, according to authorities, is rather ill although in stable condition after having recently traveled to the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak originated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the federal agency that is the US national public health institute, reported.

The patient returned from China on Jan. 15, two days before US authorities ordered all travelers coming from Wuhan to be monitored for viral illness at the airports in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

In those monitoring activities, which have also been put into place at other international airports around the world such as in Australia and other Asian nations, the travelers' body temperatures are taken, since one of the first symptoms of the coronavirus is a slight fever.

In a statement, the CDC confirmed the Washington state case and said that it is not clear how the virus transmits itself from person to person, but it can definitely do so.

Over the past few weeks, the CDC has launched various preventive measures to alert hospitals and clinics to the symptoms of the Wuhan virus, as well as what the best treatment methods are for the disease.

Medical and other authorities are working to improve the detection tests for the virus, which presently can only be performed at CDC facilities, so that they can be undertaken at more locations.

It is expected that US hospitals will very soon implement certain protocols for those patients presenting with symptoms of respiratory illness with the aim of localizing and isolating people with the Wuhan virus as quickly as possible.

The detection of this first case in the US comes shortly after the Chinese government confirmed that the virus can be transferred among people and a significant increase in the number of cases in the Asian giant.

In addition, the World Health Organization on Wednesday is scheduled to announce, after a meeting of experts, whether it will declare an international emergency due to the risk to public health.

Since the first case of the Wuhan virus appeared in late December, information about it has been sparse, due in part to the lack of transparency of Chinese authorities, who initially declared that the disease may have originated at a fish and seafood market in Wuhan - a non-coastal city - although no further details have been made public such as, for instance, what animal the disease developed within before being passed to humans.

WHO has said on its Twitter account that the most probable circumstance is that an animal is the primary source of the coronavirus. Poultry and hogs are often the sources of the various strains of yearly flu virus, for instance, which generally pass easily to humans who are in close contact with those animals and then propagates via person-to-person contact.

The Wuhan virus is in the same family as SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which in 2002-2003 killed more than 700 people, and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

So far, cases of the virus have been found in patients in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, and Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered that the eradication of the disease be given "maximum priority," according to China's state-run Xinhua news agency, which also reported that the virus presents "a public health emergency."

In addition, cases of Wuhan pneumonia have been detected in Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and South Korea.

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China confirms coronavirus can be transmitted among humans

Beijing, Jan 21 (efe-epa).- China’s health commission confirmed Tuesday that transmission between humans of the new coronarivus – which has already caused four deaths and infected more of 200 people in the country – is possible, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Zhong Nanshan, who leads the commission’s team of experts, said at least two patients in the southern province of Canton had contracted the virus through human contact.

"Patients became infected after their relatives traveled to Wuhan [a city of 11 million inhabitants and source of the outbreak] and became infected," Zhong said.

The latest death, confirmed Tuesday, was that of an 89-year-old man who was hospitalized Friday. The expert added that several health workers had also been infected.

However, Zhong said it only took two weeks to identify the new virus and that a situation such as the one that occurred during 2003’s Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic is unlikely. SARS caused 813 deaths worldwide, 646 of which were in China.

According to the United Nations health agency, between 14-15 percent of SARS cases end in death, while in the case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a related disease also caused by a coronavirus, the mortality rate rises to 35 percent.

So far, there are only six types of this family of viruses known: four of them causing mild respiratory conditions similar to a cold, and the other two responsible for SARS and MERS.

The number of confirmed infections Tuesday morning in China was down to 198, after 25 patients recovered. Thirty-five are in serious condition, while nine are critical. Two other cases have also been confirmed in Thailand, one in South Korea and one in Japan.

The respiratory disease expert explained that the constant detection of new cases indicates that "the epidemic is still at an early stage," according to Xinhua.

Zhong said increased transmissions are likely the coming days, as Friday marks the start of Chinese New Year holidays – which cause the planet’s largest human migration – but was confident in containing the virus’ spread with rapid diagnoses, proper treatment and quarantine.

Chinese Premier Xi Jinping said Monday he expected the virus to be contained "with determination," while Prime Minister Li Keqiang announced the creation of a group dedicated to fighting the illness.

The World Health Organization will hold a meeting of experts Wednesday to determine whether the current coronavirus outbreak in China constitutes an international emergency. EFE-EPA


Philippines investigates suspected pneumonia case caused by new coronavirus

Manila, Jan 21 (efe-epa).- The Philippines is investigating a suspected case of pneumonia caused by a new deadly coronavirus in the city of Cebu, the health department said on Tuesday.

The five-year-old Chinese national was admitted to the Cebu City hospital on Jan. 12 with fever, throat irritation, and cough, symptoms that he presented before arriving in the Philippines.

The boy has a history of traveling to Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak of the new coronavirus - which causes a type of pneumonia - was detected in December. Some 198 cases have been confirmed in Wuhan, where four people have died of the disease.

The boy, who was admitted on the same day he arrived in the Philippines, “is still experiencing cough but is currently stable and afebrile”, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.

The patient has tested negative for the coronavirus strain that causes the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) as well as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), the department added in a statement.

However, samples from the boy have tested positive for a non-specific pan coronavirus assay and they have been sent to Australia for additional tests to determine its specific strain.

Three Chinese tourists, who were quarantined after arriving at the airport in Kalibo - a tourist destination in the central Philippines - with flu-like symptoms, have been discharged.

The first patient was a 29-year-old man, who arrived in Kalibo on Jan. 17, the second a three-year-old girl who landed a day later and the third a 65-year-old man who arrived on Monday.

Neither of them is displaying the symptoms of flu or pneumonia any more nor have they traveled to Wuhan or been in contact with animals.

However, health authorities will continue to monitor the three Chinese nationals, who are from Nanjing, Shanghai, and Chengdu, and their samples were sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine for a more detailed analysis.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as MERS and SARS.

Chinese authorities have said they have detected five cases in Beijing and another 14 in Guangzhou, a province in south China.

This strain of the new coronavirus can be spread among humans, China’s health commission confirmed Tuesday.

Two cases have also been confirmed in Thailand, one in South Korea and one in Japan. EFE-EPA


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