Coronavirus Hits Chicago

Health officials call for calm; say no ‘immediate’ risk to public

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Photo by CDC on Unsplash

A second case of the mysterious “novel” coronavirus has turned up in the US….this time in Chicago, according to local health officials and Atlanta’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

An unnamed Chicago woman in her 60s who had recently returned from Wuhan, China, the epicenter (“ground zero”) of this disease, has been hospitalized at an undisclosed facility within the city. She is in stable condition, according to Chicago health officials.

We understand that some people are worried about this virus and how it may impact Americans, said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at a briefing this morning (Friday, January 24). The immediate risk to the U.S. public is low at this time.”

To date, sixty-three people in twenty-two states across the US are being tested for coronavirus. Eleven have tested negative and two positive for this bug. The other positive test and illness occurred in the state of Washington. Tissue samples are also being tested at the CDC in Atlanta.

The US Response in China

The Chicago discovery follows a State Department warning for Americans to steer clear of China’s Hubei province due to coronavirus, where as Chinese authorities announced Thursday, the death toll from the virus has increased to twenty-six — up from seventeen just a couple of days ago.

The US is also removing most of its diplomats and their families from the consulate general in Wuhan, the Hubei city of eleven million where the virus was first discovered. The city itself has been in virtual lockdown mode since the discovery of this bug.

The Bug in China

The disease has been detected outside the China’s Hubei province as well. An 80-year-old man died in the northern province of Hebei after returning there following a two-month stay in Wuhan, according to The Associated Press.

China’s health agency has also reported that in addition to the eight new deaths, 259 new confirmed cases had been reported in 27 provinces across China. Six of those patients have, apparently, been cured and discharged.

Shanghai’s Disneyland is a major attraction in that city. But it has been closed “in order to ensure the health and safety of our guests,” say Disneyland officials. The popular amusement park is only a two-hour flight from Wuhan.

At this writing, a total of 830 cases of this virus have been reported in China. China’s National Health Commission also reports that three cases have been reported in Thailand, two in Vietnam, and one case apiece in Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

What is Novel Coronavirus?

There are number of known coronaviruses. Some cause the common cold. Others may be found in bats, camels and other animals and have evolved or mutated into more severe illnesses such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) or MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include any of the following: *

  • Runny nose,
  • headache,
  • cough and fever.

Shortness of breath, chills and bodily aches usually indicate the presence of more dangerous kinds of coronavirus, according to the CDC.

When Should You Seek Treatment?

Recent travel to China or contact with someone known to be infected should cause one to at least visit a doctor for a checkup.

Otherwise, treat any cough or cold symptoms as normal.

Contagion

Many coronavirus infections are transmitted through the air via coughing or sneezing. But touching an infected person can also result in infection.

In Chicago

“This is a single, travel-associated case, not a local emergency,” Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a news conference Friday. “We obviously take emerging viruses very seriously, and there are still many unanswered questions about this novel virus.”

The woman is is undergoing “infection control,” Arwady said, and, “There is no need for the general public to change their behavior in any way based on this news.”

“A few days after arriving home, the patient began to feel unwell,” Arwady explained. “She called ahead to alert her doctor to her illness, rather than just presenting to a clinic or an emergency room. This is exactly what any returning traveler from Wuhan should do.”

She was sent “directly to a hospital with infection control capabilities,” Arwady said, without naming the hospital.

Since returning from China, the woman has had very limited movement and limited contact outside the home, the CDC said.

“We will be following up with those folks, looking for symptoms — quick to follow up if there were any concern,” Arwady said. “And also, we’ll be working with the health care workers who have cared for or continued to care for this patient.”

When asked if she was surprised that this virus showed up in Chicago, Arwady responded thusly: “We are certainly not surprised to have a case” in Chicago given that this is a world class and global city.

Here’s hoping that this virus remains and is limited to “a” single case — world class city or not.

UPDATE:

As of January 26, 2020, Reuters.com reports that the Chinese death toll from coronavirus has risen to 80; that a total of five cases have now been discovered in the US: 2 in California, 1 in Washington state, 1 in Arizona, and 1 in Chicago.

The total number sickened by the disease in China now stands at over 2,000.

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Freelancer since the earth first began cooling. My beat, justice: racial, social, political, economic and cultural. I’m on FB, Twitter, Link, hdyerjr@gmail.com.

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