An American who was among a group that had been flown out of Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China, by the U.S. government became the first evacuee to test positive for the coronavirus, health officials said.
The patient had arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego last week on one of the State Department flights that ferried Americans from Wuhan. The person was released from a hospital in San Diego to return to federal quarantine after initial tests indicated they weren’t infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The patient showed symptoms of the virus, COVID-19, but was released back to the base on Feb. 9. Additional testing showed the patient, in fact, was infected—bringing the number of confirmed cases in the United States to 13, the CDC stated. The patient has returned to the hospital.
“This morning, CDC officials advised San Diego Public Health that further testing revealed that one of the four patients tested positive for [COVID-19],” the University of California–San Diego, said in a statement on Feb. 10. “The confirmed positive patient was returned to UC San Diego Health for observation and isolation until cleared by the CDC for release.”
Another evacuee was sent to the hospital. Tests on that patient were pending.
“Both patients are doing well and have minimal symptoms,” the health system stated.
Eleven patients acquired the virus while in Wuhan; the other two were infected by close contact with two of the patients in the United States. The new case is the seventh in California.
Officials in Riverside County, California, also said on Feb. 10 that no one among the group of 195 evacuees at March Air Reserve Base has the virus. The group, the first to be evacuated from China, would be allowed to leave on Feb. 12, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer, said in a statement.
The patients were being held in mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
“People who have not developed symptoms will have successfully completed their quarantine and will be free to leave the base,” Kaiser said in a statement.
Health officials said repeated screenings of the patients showed no signs of the illness. Two of the patients showing symptoms of the virus were retested. Those tests were negative.
U.S. officials at first declined to place the 195 persons under quarantine, but after one tried to leave, the CDC announced the 14-day quarantine.
Officials in Alaska, where the first evacuation plane refueled before going on to California, said the evacuated Americans cheered when landing.
“They were happy to be here. They were very much cooperative with the questions,” Dr. Christopher Braden, deputy director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, added at a press conference after the group arrived at the base.
Four other planes carrying evacuees landed last week, including the one that dropped evacuees off in San Diego. Another group was quarantined at March Air Reserve Base. One was sent to Nebraska and another to Texas. The group in Nebraska was quarantined at Camp Ashland and the other group was quarantined at Lackland Air Force Base.
Officials said they expect more of the evacuees to test positive for the virus.