Five patients in four states — two in California, one in Arizona, and the patients in Washington state and Illinois announced last week — have now been confirmed in the United States to be infected with the coronavirus — 2019-nCoV — first identified in Wuhan, China earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today. All confirmed U.S. patients have traveled from Wuhan China recently, CDC officials said. For that reason, Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the CDC said, the immediate risk of the virus to the U.S. public is considered low “at this time.”
As of today, the new coronvirus has been confirmed in 14 international locations, including the U.S., Messonnier said.
All five U.S. patients remain hospitalized for clinical care, Dr. Messonnier said, with decisions on their release as well as information on the extent of their contacts in the hands of state health departments.
Those five patients are among more 100 U.S. “patients under investigation” — people who have been evaluated for the virus during the last week, across 26 states here, with that number rising rapidly, CDC officials said. The officials said the states reporting patients under investigation, with updated information will be posted on the agency’s website later this week. In addition to the five who were confirmed to be infected with the virus, 26 were confirmed to not be infected.
The CDC is urging the people across the country to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza, in part to ensure that symptoms of that illness are not confused with possible coronavirus infection, and to be aware of risks associated with travel to Wuhan, China. The agency recommends delaying travel to that city, continues a Level 1 travel alert — to practice usual precautions, and be up-to-date on immunizations — for the rest of China, and encourages paying close attention to the CDC website for further alerts.
Airport entry screening continues, Dr. Martin Cetron of the CDC said, to both evaluate and alert incoming passengers from China for signs and exposure to the virus. The CDC hopes to get the diagnostic test it has used to confirm all five cases to state health departments within the next two weeks, Dr. Messonnier said, but is working to ensure its accurate use.