A student in his 20s who visited Wuhan, China is the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Massachusetts and the eighth in the United States so far. The Department of Defense has approved quarantine centers for Americans stuck in Wuhan, and the government will ban most foreigners who recently visited China from entering the U.S.
The man is in his 20s and lives in Boston, according to a news release from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. He sought medical soon after his return to Massachusetts and has been isolated since then.
He is currently quarantined at his home and will continue to be isolated until he is cleared by public health officials, according to Saturday's news release. His "few close contacts" have been identified and are being monitored for any sign of symptoms.
The risk to the public in Massachusetts still remains low, state and local public health officials said in a conference call Saturday.
It’s tough to assess the lethality of a new virus. The worst cases are usually detected first, which can skew our understanding of how likely patients are to die. About a third of the first 41 patients reported in Wuhan had to be treated in an I.C.U., many with symptoms of fever, severe cough, shortness of breath and pneumonia. But people with mild cases may never visit a doctor. So there may be more cases than we know, and the death rate may be lower than we initially thought.
At the same time, deaths from the virus may be underreported. The Chinese cities at the center of the outbreak face a shortage of testing kits and hospital beds, and many sick people have not been able to see a doctor.
“There’s still a lot of uncertainty about what this virus is like and what it is doing,” said Dr. Allison McGeer, an infectious disease specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, who was at the frontlines of the Canadian response to SARS.
Early indications suggest the fatality rate for this virus is considerably less than another coronavirus, MERS, which kills about one in three people who become infected, and SARS, which kills about one in 10. All of the diseases appear to latch on to proteins on the surface of lung cells, but MERS and SARS seem to be more destructive to lung tissue. As of Jan. 31, fewer than one in 40 of the people with confirmed infections had died. Many of those who died were older men with underlying health problems.
The time it takes for symptoms to appear after a person is infected can be vital for prevention and control. Known as the incubation period, this time can allow health officials to quarantine or observe people who may have been exposed to the virus. But if the incubation period is too long or too short, these measures may be difficult to implement.
Some illnesses, like influenza, have a short incubation period of two or three days. People may be shedding infectious virus particles before they exhibit flu symptoms, making it almost impossible to identify and isolate people who have the virus. SARS, however, had an incubation period of about five days. In addition, it took four or five days after symptoms started before sick people could transmit the virus. That gave officials time to stop the virus and effectively contain the outbreak, Dr. McGeer said.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that the new coronavirus has an incubation period of 2 to 14 days. But it is still not clear whether a person can spread the virus before symptoms develop, or whether the severity of the illness affects how easily a patient can spread the virus.
“That concerns me because it means the infection could elude detection,” said Dr. Mark Denison, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
Thailand found good results after using a mix of two antiviral drugs on a Chinese patient who was in a serious condition with the novel coronavirus, according to a health ministry briefing.
The patient’s condition significantly improved within 48 hours after the medical team decided to use antiviral drugs originally used for HIV and influenza in his treatment, Kriangsak Attipornwanich, a doctor at the state-owned Rajavithi Hospital who is treating the patient, told reporters at the Public Health Ministry briefing Sunday. The patient’s test result also turned negative, the doctor said.
Thailand has 19 confirmed cases for coronavirus infection - 11 are still hospitalized and the rest have returned home. The nation is also monitoring 311 possible cases in hospitals as of Sunday, according to a health ministry statement.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Chanvirakul said Sunday that the nation will repatriate more than 100 people from Wuhan on Feb. 4 after they pass medical screening in China. They will then be quarantined for 14 days after returning to Thailand.
The Chinese government has accused the US of causing "panic" in its response to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
It follows the US decision to declare a public health emergency and deny entry to foreign nationals who had visited China in the past two weeks.
There are more than 17,000 confirmed cases of the virus in China. Some 361 people have died there.
Outside China, there are more than 150 confirmed cases of the virus - and one death, in the Philippines.
The virus causes severe acute respiratory infection and symptoms seem to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough.
What measures has the US taken? On 23 January, the US ordered the departure of all non-emergency US personnel and their family members from the city of Wuhan in Hubei province, where the virus originated.
Less than a week later, the US allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency personnel and relatives of US government employees from China.
On 30 January, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency over the new virus.
Following this, the US ordered the departure of all US personnel family members under the age of 21 in China.
Any US citizen who has been in Hubei province will be subject to 14 days' quarantine upon returning to the US.
Thousands of people are stuck on a cruise ship docked in Japan under quarantine while medical officials test guests for coronavirus.
An 80-year-old guest from Hong Kong was diagnosed with coronavirus after disembarking the ship on Jan. 25, five days after it departed from Yokohama, Japan, according to a statement from the cruise line obtained by CNN.
The man, who has not been identified, was hospitalized on Jan. 30 and is currently in stable condition.
After his diagnosis, the cruise, the Diamond Princess, has been quarantined in Yokohama, including all 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew members.