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11th US case of new virus confirmed in California – Toronto Star

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SAN JOSE, Calif. – Officials have confirmed that a central California couple has been sickened with a new virus after the husband travelled to the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak, bringing the number of U.S. cases to 11.

The couple, both 57 years old, have not left their home since the husband returned from China, according to a Sunday announcement from San Benito County Health and Human Services. This was a case of person-to-person transmission, officials said.

A woman in the San Francisco Bay Area who became ill after returning from a trip to China was the ninth person in the U.S. to test positive for a new virus, health authorities said Sunday. It was the second novel coronavirus case announced in Santa Clara County in the past three days but the two cases are not related, according to the county Public Health Department.

The woman, a visitor to the U.S., had recently travelled to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus. She arrived Jan. 23 to visit family, officials said in a news release.

The patient has stayed at home with family since she arrived, except for two occasions when she sought outpatient medical care. She has been regularly monitored and was never sick enough to be hospitalized, the release said.

The woman’s family members have also been isolated at the home. The health department has been bringing them food and other necessities, officials said.

“A second case is not unexpected. With our large population and the amount of travel to China for both personal and business reasons, we will likely see more cases, including close contacts to our cases,“ Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s health officer, said in a statement.

The first case in the Bay Area was a man who travelled to Wuhan and Shanghai before returning Jan. 24 to California, where he became ill, Cody said Friday.

The man was also never sick enough to be hospitalized and “self-isolated” by staying home, she said.

The man left home twice to seek outpatient care at a local clinic and a hospital. Public health officials are now trying to reach anyone he may have come into contact with during those times to assess whether they were exposed to the virus.

Those people, along with the few members of his household, will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine.

Health officials believe it can take up to two weeks for someone who is infected to get sick.

The virus has infected almost 10,000 people worldwide and killed more than 200. The vast majority of the cases and all but one of the deaths have been in China. The first death outside China from the new virus was recorded Sunday in the Philippines.

Cody said there was no risk of infection for the general public from the Santa Clara County cases.

Nearly 200 Americans who were evacuated from Wuhan are under a 14-day quarantine at a military base outside Los Angeles — the first by the government in half a century.

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Another planeload of passengers from China was expected to arrive Monday at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego, but that timing is now “fluid,” according to Rep. Scott Peters. The passengers, who have been screened twice for signs of the virus, will be quarantined at the base for 14 days to ensure they do not pose a health risk to the public, Peters said in a statement Sunday.

Other cases of the new pneumonia-like virus include two in Southern California, one in Massachusetts, one in Washington state, one in Arizona and two in Chicago.

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Public health officials taking stock of supplies, equipment to prepare for possible coronavirus pandemic – CBC.ca

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Canada’s top public health officer says federal and provincial officials are now taking stock of the medical supplies and equipment they’d need to respond to a coronavirus pandemic — but the responsibility for ensuring those inventories are adequate lies with the provinces.

During a briefing call with reporters Thursday, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said the Public Health Agency of Canada serves a national coordination role for planning and preparing for health emergencies, and can do bulk purchasing on the provinces’ behalf. While there is a federal stockpile of some medical supplies, it’s normally reserved for rare, “high-impact” biological or radiological events.

Tam said that in those cases, the federal government can top up provincial and territorial supplies in the event they run short.

“As a result of the changing landscape because of COVID-19, we are pulling together that kind of information right now,” she said.

“Of course, we have to adapt to … the evolution of the outbreak in order to fine-tune some of these estimates. But that’s the kind of exercise that’s being undertaken right now. But the granularity of the system’s preparedness is, of course, left to the provinces and territories.”

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Tam noted that there are now more cases of COVID-19 — the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus — being reported outside China than inside the country where the outbreak started. About 50 countries are now affected — some with isolated travel-related cases and others with outbreaks of their own, such as South Korea, Italy and Iran.

Seven countries — Brazil, Georgia, Greece, Macedonia, Norway, Pakistan and Romania — have only recently reported cases for the first time, World Health Organization (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a daily briefing Thursday.

“This virus does not respect borders,” he said.

No pandemic call by WHO

WHO has declared the epidemic a global health emergency but has not called it a pandemic.

To date, there have been 13 cases confirmed in Canada, but no reports of transmission through communities.

Tam said Canadian health authorities are in close contact with their counterparts in the U.S. — which only recently confirmed a case of the virus that does not appear to be linked to international travel.

The Trump administration has requested an additional $2.5 billion to respond to the coronavirus, even as the president expressed confidence there would not be a widespread outbreak in the U.S.

CBC News has asked if the federal government is earmarking extra funds for a response, but has not yet received an answer.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said it would be prudent for Canadians to prepare for a possible illness in their households by setting aside a week’s supply of medicine and food.

Tam repeated that advice today, suggesting Canadians prepare by ensuring medication supplies and making back-up child care arrangements.

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Coronavirus: More new cases outside China than in — WHO – Axios

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19 hours ago – Health
A young tourist wearing a protective facemask and a Carnival mask visits the streets of Venice

A tourist wearing a medical facemask in Venice, Italy. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP via Getty Images

The number of new cases of the novel coronavirus reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time, the World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing on Wednesday.

Details: Tedros called the sudden increase in cases in South Korea (1,595), Italy (453) and Iran (141) “deeply concerning.”

The big picture: Some 20 countries have reported their first cases in the past week, many in Europe — including Spain, Greece, Croatia, North Macedonia, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Romania and Estonia.

  • The first cases in the Middle East include Israel, Lebanon, Oman, Afghanistan, Bahrain and Kuwait.
  • Georgia, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, has also reported its first case, as has Pakistan and Algeria.
  • Brazil became the first place in South America to confirm an infection. The virus spread to Brazil by a 61-year-old man who traveled from Italy, the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak. The country is tracking 20 suspected virus cases.
  • Tedros noted that new cases in Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Spain and Switzerland were also linked to Italy, while infections in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman had connections with Iran.

What they’re saying: Germany’s health minister said Thursday the country was “at the beginning of an epidemic,” per AP, as cases surged to 27.

  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a news conference his country was preparing for a pandemic, as 23 cases were confirmed.
  • “The risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us,” he said.

Yes, but: The WHO has yet to declare the outbreak a pandemic.

  • “Using the word pandemic carelessly has no tangible benefit, but it does have significant risk in terms of amplifying unnecessary and unjustified fear and stigma, and paralyzing systems,” Tedros said.
  • “It may also signal that we can no longer contain the virus, which is not true. We are in a fight that can be won if we do the right things.”

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First US coronavirus case of unknown origin marks 'turning point' – Al Jazeera English

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Officials in California expressed frustration on Thursday over access to coronavirus testing kits after the first case of the respiratory disease of unknown origin was diagnosed in the United States, prompting fears of “community spread”. 

On Wednesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) announced that a California patient who contracted COVID-19 did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another individual with the virus.

The case in California’s Solano County brought the total number of COVID-19 cases in the US to 60, including 45 cases among those who were repatriated, the CDC said.

More:

While the US has seen a relatively few number of cases, health experts say the latest development marks a possible turning point, with fears the virus could spread further.

“I expect that we are going to start seeing some community-level transmission, in pockets across the country,” said Peter Jay Hotez, professor and dean at the National School of Tropical Medicine, in Houston, Texas.

“Whether or not it expands beyond that and becomes pervasive across the nation, that’s the unknown,” he told Al Jazeera.

The coronavirus outbreak, which originated in China, has spread to 44 countries around the world, affected markets, suspended flights and shuttered schools in a dozen countries. It has infected more than 82,000 people and killed over 3,000 – mostly in China.

Hotez says faster confirmation of coronavirus infection is crucial to a rapid response by local health authorities and to ensure the safety of both patients and healthcare workers.

“Preparedness is primarily done at the local level, many people think the CDC is in charge of preparedness, but in fact, it is done throughout the various counties and local health departments,” he said.

Testing delayed for four days

Officials say testing was previously done by the CDC in their headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, which was delaying the diagnosis process by at least a day.

In the recent California case, the patient was brought to UC Davis Medical Center on February 19, but testing was delayed for four days, because the CDC said the patient “did not fit the existing CDC criteria” for the virus, according to a hospital press release.

“We need to start testing in our communities and we need to fix our testing issues, and we need to do this now,” California Representative Ami Bera said during US House of Representatives committee hearing dedicated to addressing coronavirus.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Thursday the state currently had about 200 test kits, an “inadequate” number, but that he is in contact with federal agencies who have promised to send more kits in the coming days.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told a US House of Representatives committee on Thursday that at least 40 public health labs were now able to test specimens for coronavirus, a number that could double by Friday.

But funding to confront the pandemic has turned into a political issue in the US, which will hold presidential elections in November. Trump, a Republican, asked Congress for $2.5bn, but Democrats said the amount is insufficient and have called for $8.5bn.

Amid a stock market slump over fears of the virus’s spread, Trump on Wednesday sought to quell concerns.

“I don’t think it’s inevitable,” Trump told reporters when asked about the possibility of a larger outbreak in the US.

“It probably will. It possibly will. It could be at a very small level or it could be at a larger level,” he added as he announced that Vice President Mike Pence would oversee the federal government’s effort to contain the virus. “Whatever happens, we’re totally prepared.”

Trump holds a document as he gives a news conference on the coronavirus at the White House [Carlos Barria/Reuters] 

But health officials say that preparing for the possibility of community spread of the virus may prove difficult. 

“We do not have a secret pathway to protect people. Most of the protections that we are using fall into the category of non-pharmaceutical intervention: personal, community and environmental,” Michael Wilkes, Professor of Medicine and Global Health at UC Davis told Al Jazeera.

Personal intervention, Wilkes said, involves individuals taking precautions to protect themselves from contracting the virus, as well as ensuring they do not infect others, by seeking medical attention and isolating themselves if they suspect they have symptoms.

Community measures include cancelling large gatherings of people such as sporting and music events. While environmental involves sanitisation of public spaces.

The virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. Health officials say, like the flu, it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and affects people in different ways.

Wilkes says not everyone who gets coronavirus will suffer from severe illness and evidence shows that four out of five people infected suffer from relatively minor illness. He adds that although the spread of the virus poses a serious risk to public health, he also worries about the effect it may have on society.

“We are following the evidence and we are doing what needs to get done medically, but the biggest battle we have is fear,” Wilkes said.

Gavin Newsom

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaking to journalists at a news conference in Sacramento, California [Randall Benton/AP Photo] 

As for the Solano County, California, case, officials say they are attempting to locate anyone who may have come into contact with the patient. The county also declared a state of emergency.

California Governor Newsom, who expressed frustration over access to testing kits, declined to declare a statewide emergency, and said: “People should go about their day-to-day lives with common sense. I don’t want to instil any sense of new anxiety.”

With additional reporting by William Roberts in Washington, DC.

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