Even as President Donald Trump sought to reassure the public that the risk of coronavirus in the U.S. remains low, ominous news emerged that could heighten the level of concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday confirmed an infection in California that would represent the first U.S. person to contract the virus despite not visiting a foreign country recently or coming in contact with an infected patient. “At this time, the patient’s exposure is unknown,” the CDC said in a statement. “It’s possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19, which would be the first time this has happened in the United States. Community spread means spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown. It’s also possible, however, that the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected.”
This brings the number of coronavirus cases detected in the U.S. to 15, with 12 of them related to travel and the other two to direct contact with a patient. There are another 42 Americans who tested positive on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Japan, and three detected in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicenter of the global outbreak.
“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” she said. The new case in California may validate that assessment. Even before that news broke, officials in two of the state’s jurisdictions took action in response to the coronavirus’ threat. –USA Today
Man dies with mysterious illness resembling COVID-19: A Singaporean man, identified only as AA, 61, who was suspected of having contracted the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, died in Batam on Feb. 22 in a coronavirus referral hospital. He had previously gone to an emergency unit of a private hospital with symptoms similar to the coronavirus infection. The Batam Health Agency said he died of “another illness”, not COVID-19, because the patient’s test results for the virus had come back negative. The man arrived at Awal Bros Hospital in Batam on Feb. 20 at noon, hospital spokesperson Cynthia Latuma told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday. Cynthia said that after an emergency unit doctor examined the patient and found that he had a fever and was short of breath, Awal Bros referred AA to BP Batam Hospital, one of Indonesia’s referral hospitals for the novel coronavirus.
“He had just returned from Singapore, and he had a fever. We thought that he might have the coronavirus infection, although we did not know for sure. To mitigate the risks, we sent him to BP Batam Hospital, which is the referral hospital for coronavirus,” she said. The patient, however, died on Feb. 22, before the lab returned the negative results.
Didi said the hospital had not yet released the body in accordance with Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) procedures in Singapore concerning the coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization, the PHEIC refers to “an extraordinary event, which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease; and to potentially require a coordinated international response.” “This definition implies a situation that is serious, unusual or unexpected; carries implications for public health beyond the affected state’s national border; and may require immediate international action,” the WHO website says. –Jakarta Post