A traveller from China is the first person in the US to be diagnosed with a mystery new virus.
The American citizen, who is in his 30s, is in a good condition in hospital near Seattle after returning from China in the middle of last week, according to health officials.
They say he did not show any symptoms when he arrived in the US on Wednesday, but then contacted doctors on Sunday when he began to feel unwell – but that he is not considered a threat to medical staff or the public.
Image: Medical staff carry a patient with the new coronavirus into Wuhan’s Jinyintan hospital
“We do expect additional cases in the United States and globally” – said Dr Nancy Messonnier, a respiratory diseases expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It says it has begun tracking down individuals who came in contact with the patient to check them for symptoms.
Six people have died from the illness in Wuhan, the capital of China’s central Hubei province, most of them aged 60 or older, including some with a previous medical condition.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes coronaviruses as a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as SARS – or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – which killed nearly 800 people globally during the 2002-03 outbreak, that also started in China.
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When a new strain emerges that has not yet been identified, as is the case with the current outbreak in the country, it temporarily becomes known as a novel coronavirus (nCoV).
This new virus – which can cause coughing, fever, breathing difficulty and pneumonia – originated at a seafood market in the city – and 291 people have been infected in China, its National Health Commission said on Tuesday.
The outbreak has already spread to other cities including Beijing and Shanghai – and the US is the fifth country to report seeing the illness, following China, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea.
It is also claimed a child from China had tested positive for coronavirus while in the Philippines, according to reports in the country which attributed the claims to the Department of Health.
Image: Passengers at Shanghai railway station wear facemasks as they travel home for the Lunar New Year
It is understood the 5-year-old, from Wuhan – who had a fever, throat irritation and a cough – arrived in Cebu City on 12 January to study English and that they were confined to a hospital the same day.
Officials in China confirmed on Monday that the new mystery virus – which has no cure – can spread between humans.
Concerns are growing as hundreds of millions of people in the country prepare to travel home – often from cities to the countryside – or travel abroad for the week-long Lunar New Year holiday which starts on Saturday.
Image: Some stories and pharmacies say the have sold out of face masks
The (WHO) has called an emergency meeting for Wednesday to consider declaring an international health emergency, a move only used for the worst epidemics.
Image: Families are seen leaving the Wuhan Medical Treatment Centre, where the 61-yea-old man who died from the virus was confined.
Fears about a global outbreak similar to SARS has prompted numerous nations to introduce screening measures for travellers from China, especially those arriving from Wuhan.
Health screenings have started at three international airports in the US – New York’s John F. Kennedy, San Francisco and Los Angeles International airport.
They are initially expected to involve around 5,000 passengers, according to the CDC.
Image: Airports around the world have stepped up temperature screening
Chicago’s O’Hare airport and Atlanta’s airport will also begin screenings later this week – and officials are expected to begin to force all passengers that originate in Wuhan to go to one of these five airports if they want to enter the US.
North Korea is also planning to temporarily ban foreign tourists, who are mainly Chinese, according to a foreign tour operator.
Several other nations, including Italy, India and Australia are also introducing checks for the virus.
People “should not be panicking right now” – says University of Washington coronavirus researcher David Veesler.
Image: Long queues have formed outside pharmacies across China to buy facemasks
He claims the response has been “very efficient” – adding that: “In a couple of weeks, China was able to identify the virus, isolate it, sequence it and share that information.”
“We don’t have enough data to judge how severe the disease is.”
Source : Sky News