News about the coronavirus from Wuhan continues to evolve. Twelve days ago there were less than 3,000 cases of infection in China and fewer than 100 deaths. Three days later Chinese health authorities reported 8,200 cases and more than 200 deaths. A week ago the number of cases had climbed to over 12,000 and deaths approached 300. Yesterday, the number of cases exceeded 28,000 with 630 deaths in China and two outside of the country. Friday, the New York Times reported a total of 31,161 cases and 636 deaths. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
Chinese health authorities are suggesting that the virus may have mutated to become more contagious. They suspect that each person with the virus can infect another two people. Roughly one fifth of the people with coronavirus become seriously ill with pneumonia. At least, those are the current estimates. Officials have had challenges getting accurate counts on people infected with the virus. If, as some reporters suggest, the actual number of cases is far higher because many people with virus are not severely ill, the proportion that do become really sick would be lower.
Public Health Authorities Crack Down on Coronavirus from Wuhan:
There are reports from Wuhan that authorities are requiring all city residents to report their temperatures daily. Anyone with a fever is being taken into makeshift quarantine camps in the city. So far, we don’t know whether these facilities will be able to provide appropriate care to people who develop trouble breathing or acute respiratory distress as a complication of the illness.
Coronavirus Has Reached the US:
The US has issued travel bans to China and quarantined people returning from the country. It is impossible to keep the coronavirus out. There have already been 12 cases reported in the US, and there may well have been others that went undetected. Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner, warns that American public health authorities need to be more vigilant to prevent outbreaks in the US from turning into an epidemic.
JAMA has provided a video conference with Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, with an update as of 2/6/2020.