What to know about the viral outbreak in China

Henrietta Strickland
January 22, 2020

Updated on January 21 at 3 p.m.

The man, identified only as a Snohomish County resident is in his 30s, was in good condition and wasn't considered a threat to medical staff or the public, health officials said.

The new coronavirus has since spread throughout China with confirmed cases separated by almost 1,500 miles in Beijing and Shenzhen.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the man is being isolated "out of caution" and "poses little risk" to the public. The screening had been underway at three US airports - New York City's Kennedy airport and the Los Angeles and San Francisco airports.

About 300 cases of the virus and six deaths have been reported in China, and health officials there and around the world are ramping up precautions to stem the spread.

The 30-year-old showed symptoms of the virus after he was hospitalised with pneumonia last week.

Patients have been identified as having the virus in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located (270 cases), Beijing (10 cases); Guangdong province (14 cases); Shanghai (six cases); Zhejiang (five cases); and Tianjin (two cases).

Many airports around the world, including three in the U.S. - JFK in New York, SFO in San Francisco and LAX in Los Angeles - are setting up additional security screenings for passengers coming from infected areas.

At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, the CDC said it's expanding the screenings to include Chicago's O'Hare and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson worldwide airports, The CDC also says any passengers originating from Wuhan into the US will be funneled to one of the five airports with screening, even if this requires rebooking them on different flights. Face masks sold out and temperature checks at airports and train stations became the new norm as China strove Tuesday to control the outbreak of a new coronavirus that has reached four other countries and territories and threatens to spread further during the Lunar New Year travel rush. However most patients are in Wuhan, the central city of 11 million at the heart of the outbreak. Passengers set to travel to Wuhan are also being offered free ticket cancellations or changes. "You line up and then you go through group by group".

Health officials in Wuhan first confirmed it was treating patients suffering from pneumonia caused by an unknown virus on December 31, but infrared temperature screening areas were not installed in the city's airports and stations until January 14, according to state media.

Once a super-spreader is detected, the patient must be put under strict quarantine and receive special treatment, said Zhong Nanshan, a prominent Chinese epidemiologist who is heading the National Health Commission's investigation into the outbreak. The coronavirus is also raising concerns because it has spread in medical environments - among people who are likely taking appropriate precautions to avoid infection.

The news follows growing concerns of the virus spreading globally and mounting evidence that it may spread through human contact. These masks are reportedly selling out in stores and online retailers in the country. Yuan said health authorities will closely monitor how the virus is passed through contact with a single source.

"Now we can say it is certain that it is a human-to-human transmission phenomenon", he said.

Scientists have identified it as a new kind of coronavirus. Earlier laboratory tests ruled out SARS and MERS - Middle East respiratory syndrome - as well as influenza, bird flu, adenovirus and other common lung-infecting germs.

CDC officials said they sent a team to Washington to try to track down people who might have come in contact with the man.

The World Health Organization will convene an expert panel tomorrow to discuss whether to declare 2019-nCoV a global health emergency, STAT reports.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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