Wuhan 2019-nCoV: CDC announces second confirmed U.S. case, says overall risk here remains low

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A Chicago woman who traveled to Wuhan, China in December and returned to the United States Jan. 13 is the second person confirmed to have the novel coronavirus — 2019-nCoV — identified in the central China city, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials reported today.

The woman did not experience symptoms of illness until several days after her return, and had no extended contact with anyone outside of her home after her symptoms began, Dr. Nancy Messonnier of CDC said. This is important because  concern for transmission before the onset of symptoms is low, Dr. Messonnier said.

Dr. Messonnier reiterated a point she made when announcing confirmation of the first U.S. patient, that immediate risk to the public in this country continues to be considered low. Still, she noted, information continues to be gathered on the coronavirus, which now has infected more than 800 people in China, including through person to person transmission, been confirmed in patients in eight other countries, and caused 25 deaths. The incubation period for the virus — the time between infection and the onset of illness is believed to be about two weeks, she said.

The patient, who is in her 60s is “clinically doing well,” in stable condition, and remains in a Chicago hospital for infection control. Her doctor alerted the hospital before her arrival to optimize protective measures there.

In addition to those who did have contact with her, 63 people across 22 states have been evaluated for coronavirus, with two patients confirmed to be infected – the patient announced today, and a Washington state man confirmed to be the first U.S. patient with the virus earlier this week, and 11 people confirmed not to be infected. The CDC is working to get rapid diagnostic tests for 2019-nCoV to all state health departments “as quickly as possible,” Dr. Messonnier said.

Because she was without symptoms on her arrival, the second patient to be confirmed to have the virus following travel to Wuhan, China also is the second whose infection would not have been identified through  the airport entry screening, which was instituted for travelers flying from Wuhan to New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco Jan. 17 and extended this week to Chicago and Atlanta airports, even had it been in place then. The first patient also was asymptomatic on his return to Washington State, earlier this month. Travel from and within Wuhan, and other affected areas of the country was closed by Chinese officials this week, and the purpose of the screening is being re-evaluated, Dr. Martin Cetron of the CDC said today.

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