There are at least five confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus in the US, a number the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts will continue to climb.
The novel coronavirus, which has sickened thousands and killed more than 100 people in China, belongs to a large family of viruses that mostly sicken animals. But this coronavirus, like SARS and MERS, “jumped the species barrier” to infect people on a large scale, the CDC said.
Despite its impact in China, the CDC maintains that the risk to Americans is low. But there’s still a lot about the virus, its symptoms and how easily it spreads that health officials don’t know.
The CDC raised the travel precautions to China to its highest of three levels, meaning travelers are advised to “avoid nonessential travel” to the country.
“We need to be preparing as if this is a pandemic, but I continue to hope that it is not,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
The five patients who’ve been confirmed had all recently returned from Wuhan, the CDC said.
The first confirmed coronavirus patient in the US, a man in his 30s, sought treatment at an urgent care center in the state after returning from Wuhan. The urgent care center sent his samples to the CDC, which confirmed he had the coronavirus.
He entered isolated care at a hospital in Everett, about 30 miles north of Seattle, on January 23. He’s receiving treatment in an isolated gurney designed for patients with highly contagious diseases, and a robot takes his vitals.
He’s in stable condition, said Dr. George Diaz, the man’s physician and an infectious disease expert. He’ll undergo additional testing until he’s no longer contagious.
A woman in her 60s in Chicago was diagnosed a few days after she returned from Wuhan on January 13. She’s in stable condition and “doing well” after undergoing treatment, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwardy said.
She’ll stay in the hospital to control the infection.
There are two patients in California: One in Los Angeles County and another in Orange County.
Details are sparse about the Los Angeles county patient. They’re currently being treated at a local hospital, though the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health didn’t disclose how long they sought treatment after exposure to the virus.
The risk to Los Angeles County is low, the department said.
An Orange County man in his 50s flew into Los Angeles International Airport in Wuhan earlier this month. The county found out January 23, and the CDC confirmed his results on Saturday. He’s in a local hospital.
The state health department confirmed the patient is an “adult member” of the Arizona State University community, though it didn’t release the patient’s age or gender.
The patient called their healthcare provider when they began to experience mild respiratory symptoms. The CDC confirmed the coronavirus on Sunday.
The patient isn’t hospitalized, but is self-isolated at home, the department said.
Who’s still at risk
The CDC is monitoring at least 100 people in 26 states for coronavirus. About 25 of them were found not to have it.
Washington state health officials are monitoring 50 people who came in close contact with the state’s patient.
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is monitoring two potential cases of coronavirus. Two people in the state recently traveled to Wuhan City, China, and developed respiratory symptoms and are currently undergoing testing for the virus, according to a DHHS statement. Samples have been sent to the CDC for testing and the individuals will remain isolated until test results are available, the statement said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed the state, which hasn’t seen any confirmed cases yet, sent seven possible cases to the CDC for testing. Of those, four people remain in isolation while their results are pending. The travelers had just returned to the US from Lunar New Year celebrations in China.
The Georgia Department of Public Health is working with the CDC to evaluate patient information received from healthcare providers about potential coronavirus cases, said health department spokesperson Nancy Nydam.
“To date, DPH has not confirmed any cases of coronavirus in Georgia, however the situation could change as additional patients are evaluated,” Nydam said.
A total of four people in Virginia, Oklahoma and Maryland are also being tested for coronavirus. A Chinese exchange student whose flight connected in Wuhan is also being tested in Philadelphia, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
Other coronavirus cases have been confirmed in several Asian countries, including Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. Patients have also been reported in France and Australia, and on Monday, Ontario public health officials confirmed two cases, a husband and wife, had the virus.
What’s being done
The CDC is screening travelers from Wuhan at several US airports, including in Los Angeles, San Francisco and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport began screenings last week.
Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that the CDC is conducting screenings at 20 American airports that receive 90% of all passengers from China.
The CDC advises Americans to avoid unnecessary travel to Hubei Province. Three dozen US diplomats and their families in Wuhan will evacuate the region to return to the US early this week.
The Canadian government has issued a travel advisory, urging citizens to avoid all travel to the Hubei Province of China. The advisory includes the cities of Wuhan, Huanggang and Ezhou.
The northern Chinese city of Tangshan also suspended all local public transportation services to curb the spread of the virus.
Otherwise, the CDC encourages people to follow flu season protocol: Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid ill people and stay home and avoid public situations if they’re ill. A coronavirus vaccine would take at least a year to reach the public.
CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen, John Bonifield, Jamie Gumbrecht, Nadia Kounang, Amanda Sealy and Konstantin Toropin contributed to this report.