These updates are from Jan. 27. For updates on Jan. 28, click here.
German and Sri Lankan Health Authorities Confirm First Case of Novel Coronavirus
Health authorities in Bavaria on Monday evening confirmed Germany’s first positive case of 2019-nCoV.
According to the infectious diseases task force of the Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority, the male patient from the district of Starnberg is clinically in “good condition” and is being monitored while in isolation.
Those who have been in close contact with him have been informed and infection control measures have been implemented.
The Task Force and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) have said they consider the infection risk to the Bavarian population to be low.
The man was infected by a Chinese colleague who attended a company training in Bavaria a week ago, said Andreas Zapf, the head of Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority, in a press conference.
The colleague, a woman from Shanghai, flew back home on Jan. 23, during which she started feeling sick, Zapf said. She previously had not shown any symptoms. After returning to China she tested positive for the disease. The woman lives in Shanghai, but days before her trip to Germany, she had been visited by her parents from Wuhan, the virus epicenter.
Sri Lanka also confirmed its first known case of 2019-nCoV.
“A Chinese lady, who is in her 40s, arrived on the 19th as a tourist and fell ill on the 25th and was confirmed as having the coronavirus following a test on Monday,” Sudath Samaraweera, the chief epidemiologist with Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health, told Reuters.
Flight Evacuating Americans From Wuhan to Stop in Alaska
The flight evacuating American citizens from Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus started, will stop in Anchorage, Alaska.
Around 240 passengers will be on the flight. They and the flight crew will be screened by officials from China and the United States before they’re allowed to depart from Wuhan; anyone who shows symptoms of the virus, including a fever and respiratory issues, won’t be allowed onto the plane.
The flight will stop at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport to refuel, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said on Monday.
The plane will refuel at the private North Terminal.
“Given Alaska’s proximity to Asia, we have been asked to assist our federal partners in this effort to facilitate travel out of China back to the United States to bring these U.S. citizens home,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said in a statement. “The State of Alaska, in combination with our local, federal and Tribal partners have been working closely to ensure the health and safety of all Alaskans while assisting with this request.”
Alaska currently has no confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus.
100,000 Hospital Beds to be Added in Hubei
The epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, China’s Hubei Province, is opening up 100,000 hospital beds in an effort to contain the disease, the province’s vice governor announced on Jan. 27.
At least 17 cities in the province have been placed under a lockdown, stranding tens of millions of people amid the Chinese New Year holiday, the country’s peak migration season.
Thousands have been infected with the deadly virus. The country’s vice premier Li Keqiang arrived in Wuhan on Monday to coordinate efforts to contain the disease.
US Considering Expanding Screening of Airline Passengers
The United States is considering expanding screening of people arriving in the country from different parts of China, as 110 people are under investigation for suspected coronavirus infection, health officials said on Jan. 27.
Passengers coming from Wuhan, the epicenter of the new coronavirus, are being screened at five of the largest airports in the United States: San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta.
That screening could be expanded as soon as this week, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters in a phone call on Monday.
“This outbreak is unfolding rapidly and we are rapidly looking at how that impacts our posture at the border. We are certainly considering broadening of that screening and that is something that I’ll be prepared to speak about as soon as we can make a decision on it,” she said.
US Investigating 110 Cases
The United States has 110 people under investigation, or PUIs, across 26 states, health officials said around noon EST on Monday.
“This is a cumulative number and will only increase,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a phone call with reporters.
Thirty-two people have tested negative and five have tested positive.
Some of the patients have been identified through screening at airports while others have reported to their doctors when they develop symptoms. Doctors, noting patient history or contact, notify the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Suspicious cases feature people with a fever and a respiratory illness who either traveled to Wuhan or had contact with someone with Wuhan.
Once the local or state health department learns of a case, they contact the CDC. If they jointly decide to test the patient, results take somewhere around a day to finalize, depending on the geographic area and other factors.
The CDC is developing testing kits and is working on distributing them to priority areas across the country.
Johnson & Johnson Working on Vaccine
Johnson & Johnson’s chief scientific officer said he is “pretty confident” that his company can create a vaccine for the new coronavirus, which is spreading to a growing number of countries from China.
No vaccine or cure currently exists for the coronavirus, which has been deadly for some people.
“We have dozens of scientists working on this so we’re pretty confident we can get something made that will work and stay active for the longer term,” Dr. Paul Stoffels said during an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday.
Stoffels said that scientists at the company created an Ebola vaccine in six months but it would be similar to an approach taken in the case of the Zika virus, where they had to start from scratch.
Cambodia Confirms First Case
Cambodian officials on Monday said a patient in the country tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus for the first time.
Health Minister Mam Bunheng said that the patient is a Chinese national who is in Sihanoukville, a city of about 90,000 on the southwest coast, the Bangkok Post reported.
The man traveled to the coastal city from Wuhan in China earlier this month, Bunheng said.
“People who return from Wuhan city, Hubei province of the People’s Republic of China must regularly check their health and if they have fever symptoms, cough, running nose, …please hurry to seek medical treatment at public health centers,” he said.
The coronavirus has spread to a number of Asian countries, including Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia.
Canada Confirms Two Cases
Officials in Canada said that the wife of the man who was the country’s first person infected with the Wuhan coronavirus also tested positive for the virus.
The woman has been in self-imposed isolation since she and her husband arrived in Toronto last week, officials said. The couple flew on a China Southern Airlines flight that department from Guangzhou.
They originally departed from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus.
Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health, said that risk to other Canadians remains low at this time.
“We are working alongside Toronto Public Health, who has been in regular contact with the individual during their self-isolation period,” said Dr. Williams in a statement. “Given the fact that she has been in self-isolation, the risk to Ontarians remains low.”
Australia Confirms Fifth Case
Health authorities in the Australian state of New South Wales have confirmed a 21-year-old woman has tested positive to coronavirus—making her the fifth person being treated in Australia.
A woman who was on the last flight out of Wuhan to arrive in Sydney has tested positive to coronavirus, taking to five the number of people being treated in Australia for the potentially deadly illness.
NSW Health on Monday afternoon confirmed a 21-year-old woman who arrived at Sydney Airport on Thursday subsequently developed symptoms and tested positive.
Chief health officer Dr. Kerry Chant said the woman was met at the airport by health officials and given advice on what to do if she became unwell—and she had followed that guidance.
China Tries to Contain Virus With Travel Restrictions
Chinese authorities are struggling to contain the new coronavirus outbreak as the death toll and number of confirmed cases continue to climb daily.
Authorities are adding travel restrictions throughout Hubei Province and in other areas to try to curb the virus, which has an unknown origin and keeps spreading to additional countries.
Cities like Wuhan have been quarantined while Beijing said it was banning all tour groups that leave from the capital to other Chinese cities and overseas.
Virginia Probing Possible Cases
Virginia health officials said three people are under investigation for possibly having 2019 Novel Coronavirus, the new coronavirus from China.
Two people in central Virginia and one person in northern Virginia is under investigation, the state Department of Health said in a statement.
The people meet certain criteria provided by the CDC and are being tested to see if they have the virus.
Lab tests usually only take around five hours, but because of the volume of tests submitted from around the country tests are taking longer to process, officials with the agency said last week in a phone call with reporters. An official with the Virginia Department of Health told WTOP that the test results are expected later this week.
Eva Fu, Cathy He, Zachary Stieber, Frank Fang, Nicole Hao, Reuters, and the AAP contributed to this report.