Officials in Texas are investigating a suspected case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus, the virus that’s hit China and spread to multiple other countries.
The patient is a student at Texas A&M. The male patient traveled from Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the outbreak, within the past 14 days.
“Health care providers were aware of public health guidance on novel coronavirus and quickly recognized that the patient met the criteria for coronavirus testing and is being kept isolated at home, while the precautionary testing is done,” the Brazos County Health Department said in a statement.
“If there is a confirmed case, we will promptly announce it.”
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Dr. Eric Wilke of the department said that the patient is “self-isolated.” Asked if the student lives on campus, the official declined to answer. The student likely attended classes before being isolated. It was not clear how many people he’d been in contact with.
The patient “is doing well” and “was doing well last night,” he added. Health officials consider the patient, who is between 20 and 30 years old, low risk.
The department urged people who traveled to Wuhan to call authorities or seek medical care if they develop flu-like symptoms like fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and a sore throat.
People should call their healthcare provider before traveling to get medical care, the district said.
Brazos County, which has a population of around 225,000, sits south of Dallas between Austin and Houston in southeast Texas.
The first confirmed case of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus was confirmed this week in Washington State, federal officials said. The patient recently returned from Wuhan and sought treatment at a medical facility.
“While originally thought to be spreading from animal-to-person, there are growing indications that limited person-to-person spread is happening. It’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement about the first confirmed case.
A person who flew into Los Angeles on Wednesday and displayed symptoms of an illness potentially resembling coronavirus and was sent a hospital for precautionary testing Thursday.
Later on Thursday, U.S. authorities told people to avoid traveling to Wuhan.
“There is an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that can be spread from person to person,” the CDC said in a travel notice.
“Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan, including buses, subways, trains, and the international airport. Preliminary information suggests that older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease from this virus.”
The agency did not say to avoid nonessential travel to other parts of China.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said at a press conference Thursday that the coronavirus is not yet a global health emergency, though it is one inside of China.
“Make no mistake. This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of WHO, at the press conference.
“I am not declaring a public health emergency of international concern today,” he added.
Patients inside China have died from the illness. Scores have been infected, with cases also cropping up in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, in addition to the United States.