While in China the new coronavirus has claimed another life, it’s also on move and has made it to Thailand and Japan. As of this past Monday, Thai officials announced that there are two confirmed cases. Japan only has one case so far. In talking to the first patient in Thailand and the one in Japan, they state that they did not visit the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan before traveling. In addition, the market was closed on January 1st and disinfected. However, new cases have appeared since then. This is worrisome because it means the outbreak might be spreading in Wuhan and that human-to-human transmission could be happening. This hasn’t been confirmed by Chinese health officials or the World Health Organization (WHO).
What has been reported is that the majority of the cases have been middle-age and older men. Also, no healthcare workers seem to have been infected. It appears that this virus is less transmissible and deadly than the 2003 SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak. However, as a precaution, Wuhan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and South Korea are quarantining individuals who have flu-like symptoms and are increasing temperature screenings at their airports.
Public health officials at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other federal government offices recognize the seriousness of the situation and anticipate that the virus will appear in the United States at some point, but the current risk is very low. Starting today, airports in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are screening any passengers arriving from Wuhan for any signs of infection. Part of the screening will include a questionnaire that passengers must fill out answering questions regarding whether or not they have any symptoms, such as a fever or cough, and whether or not they visited any meat or seafood markets while in Wuhan. In addition, these individuals will have their temperatures checked using thermal scanners that are either pointed at their forehead or temple. If any there are any signs of illness, then the individual will be examined further. Health officials did say that since it’s peak cold and flu season, it might be challenging to accurately identify those who have the new coronavirus.