WASHINGTON, DC -- Public health officials are sounding the alarm as an outbreak of coronavirus that began in China is now infecting thousands of people in dozens of other countries, including the United States.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said the agency has sent out new coronavirus testing guidance to health care workers on Thursday, after what might be the first U.S. case of community spread of the virus.
- Congress eyes billions in funding to fight coronavirus
- El Paso and New Mexico health departments to get new test kits soon
- U.S.-Mexico border manufacturing disrupted due to coronavirus
- Wuhan coronavirus timeline and fast facts
- Dow plunges 1,200 points as coronavirus continues to rattle markets
- Facebook cancels its biggest conference amid coronavirus concerns
- Drug companies race to test coronavirus vaccines
- CDC confirms the first U.S. coronavirus case of ‘unknown’ origin
- Health expert tapped for coronavirus task force will report to Pence
- Companies ban business travel as coronavirus outbreak escalates
- Study finds coronavirus to be more contagious than SARS
Earlier in the outbreak, CDC guidance to doctors in the U.S. was that a patient had to have a travel history to China, among other criteria. But a patient at UC Davis Medical Center prompted the CDC to change its guidance.
The patient that prompted the guidance change was transferred from another Northern California hospital last week. According to a letter from UC Davis Health, the patient “did not fit the existing CDC criteria for COVID-19, a test was not immediately administered.” After doctors persisted in their request for the test, on Sunday, CDC went ahead with testing.
On Wednesday night, the CDC confirmed the patient tested positive for the coronavirus.
That patient became the first US case of unknown origin, according to the CDC. The patient didn’t have any relevant travel history nor any exposure to another known patient. The patient may be the first US case of “community spread” of the virus, officials said.
“As soon as that case was recognized, we met and we revised our case definition for persons under investigation,” Redfield said. The guidance was updated on the CDC’s website Thursday. “Today that has been posted along with a new health advisory that the recommendation should be when a clinician or individual suspects coronavirus, then we should be able to get a test for coronavirus.”
Redfield added in his testimony before a Congressional committee on Thursday: “This is a fluid situation. There’s a lot we don’t know and we are learning more every day.”
Here are Thursday's other key developments as officials attempt to contain the virus:
- The latest numbers: There are more than 82,000 cases around the world, including 2,808 deaths. The vast majority of these are in mainland China, which has reported 78,497 cases and 2,744 deaths.
- WHO says virus has 'pandemic potential': The director-general of the World Health Organization said the rising number of novel coronavirus cases confirmed outside of China demonstrate what this newly identified virus is capable of, and everyone must be prepared.
- South Korea spike: South Korea reported 256 additional cases of new coronavirus, raising its total to 2,022. The national death toll there remains at 13.
- More cases in Italy — and beyond: At least 650 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Italy, officials said. Across Europe, at least 11 countries now have confirmed cases of coronavirus, some of which have been traced back to the Italy outbreak.
- Saudi Arabia bans some pilgrimages: Saudi Arabia has suspended pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina for people outside the country over coronavirus fears. For context, a wholesale temporary ban on foreign visits to the holy sites is a first in living memory.
- The worst week for stocks since financial crisis: U.S. stocks faced another sharp selloff today as worries about coronavirus mounted. Both the Dow and the S&P are on track for their worst week since the fall of 2008, the midst of the financial crisis.
- New York City testing possible case: The New York City Health Department announced Thursday afternoon that it was investigating a possible coronavirus case in the city. The patient reported having symptoms and recently traveled to Italy.
- Facebook cancels annual developer conference: Facebook announced it would cancel its annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, California, May 5-6, due to coronavirus concerns.
- Dog in Hong Kong tests positive for virus: Officials from Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said a pet dog has tested positive for coronavirus after the dog’s owner tested positive.