Five Cases of Coronavirus Confirmed in U.S.

Five Cases of Coronavirus Confirmed in U.S.

Janell Wang, Staff Writer

The recent outbreak of coronavirus could not have hit at a more inconvenient time with it being flu season, winter, and a time of year when people travel for the holidays, especially the Lunar New Year. So far, five cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the U.S. with the first case being a Washington man in his 30s; the second, a Chicago woman in her 60s; the third and fourth, a California with a man in his 50s residing in Orange County and another one in Los Angeles County; and the most recent case, a person from Arizona. 

All patients shared one thing in common: they had all traveled back from Wuhan, China where the virus originated. Other potential cases are currently being monitored around the country. Dr. Nacy Messonnier, a director for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases stated, “There are 63 cases being monitored in the U.S. that stretch across 22 states, including the first patient in Washington state and the new case in Illinois.”

Additionally, there have been reports of coronavirus coming in from Illinois and Washington. Even worse, Chinese Health Minister Ma Xiaowei announced that the virus can be spread even before victims showed signs of symptoms. Upon hearing this, Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center said, “When I heard this, I thought, ‘Oh dear, this is worse than we anticipated.’ It means the infection is much more contagious than we originally thought.” 

If this is indeed true, then that means people won’t even realize that they had caught the virus and are unintentionally spreading it to others. In the meantime, the risk of the American public contracting the virus is still considered low.

Coronavirus is generally only found in animals and rarely evolves to infect humans. This recent virus named 2019-nCoV did, however, evolve and infect humans and was first discovered on Dec. 31, 2019. At the time of writing, The Guardian reported the virus had claimed the lives of at least 56 people in China and spread to possibly more than 100,000 people worldwide. The numbers are still rising. 

Typically, symptoms take up to two weeks to surface; symptoms include: fever, shortness of breath, coughing, and overall pneumonia-like symptoms. 

The first case of coronavirus in the U.S. was confirmed on Tuesday, Jan. 21, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It was a Washington man who had flown back from Wuhan and started having symptoms similar to pneumonia. The man was quarantined in a hospital outside Seattle, Washington. Identifying symptoms of the virus is complicated with it being flu season and so many illnesses circulating around this time of year. The CDC currently takes around four to six hours to diagnose a sample in the lab and is attempting to speed up the process of testing in order to get results to state health officials as soon as possible.

The World Health Organization declined to appoint the virus as a global health emergency as to not create unnecessary panic and because they need more data as health officials are working to the best of their abilities to contain the fast-spreading virus. Tourists and passengers coming in from China are being screened by U.S. officials. As for the situation in China, more than 56 million people have been placed under travel restrictions. Places like Shanghai Disney are closed to prevent rapid spreading of disease when usually at this time of the year the park is crammed full of people for the Lunar New Year celebrations. Health officials continue to quarantine outbreaks in order to prevent a full-blown pandemic.

Photo courtesy of NYTIMES.COM