Of­fi­cials say virus cri­sis is not over yet

Yet Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties note ‘pos­i­tive changes’

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - Doug Stan­glin and Colin Atagi Atagi re­ports for the Desert Sun. Con­tribut­ing: John Ba­con, Mor­gan Hines and Jayme Deer­wester, USA TO­DAY.

Al­though Chi­nese health of­fi­cials show the num­ber of daily coro­n­avirus cases sta­bi­liz­ing, in­ter­na­tional and U.S. health of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day that it is too early to pre­dict a fore­see­able end to the cri­sis.

“It’s way too early to try to pre­dict the be­gin­ning of the end” of the virus out­break that erupted in China in De­cem­ber, Dr. Mike Ryan, the head of emer­gen­cies for the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO), told re­porters in Geneva.

His com­ments fol­lowed the lat­est re­port from China that the 2,015 new cases counted on Tues­day was the sec­ond straight daily de­cline, down from nearly 3,900 a week ago. Com­mis­sion spokesman Mi Feng said the sit­u­a­tion is still grim, but “we have seen some pos­i­tive changes.”

Like Ryan, how­ever, Dr. Nancy Mes­son­nier of the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion cau­tioned Wed­nes­day not to read too much into the lat­est re­ports.

“I’m go­ing to be op­ti­mistic that is a sign that their ag­gres­sive ac­tions have been ef­fec­tive, but I re­ally do think it’s too soon to say that for sure, not hav­ing hands on the data our­selves,” she said.

Mes­son­nier said she hopes an ad­vance team from WHO now in China will be able to ex­am­ine the find­ings: “It would cer­tainly be re­as­sur­ing if we were now see­ing at least a slow­down of this out­break in China.”

The to­tal num­ber of cases in main­land China is now 44,653 and the death toll has in­creased to 1,113. One per­son has died in Hong Kong and one in the Philip­pines. The virus out­break started in De­cem­ber in Wuhan, China.

Last week, four planes brought U.S. cit­i­zens from China to Travis Air Force Base, south­west of Sacra­mento, Cal­i­for­nia; Marine Corps Air Sta­tion Mi­ra­mar, north of San Diego; Lack­land Air Force Base in San An­to­nio; and Ep­p­ley Air­field in Omaha, Ne­braska.

All 195 U.S. cit­i­zens who flew to March Air Re­serve Base in Cal­i­for­nia, where they were quar­an­tined and tested for the coro­n­avirus, have been re­leased from quar­an­tine and cleared to be­gin trav­el­ing to their homes.

Of­fi­cials at the air base on Tues­day said none of the trav­el­ers, who have been iso­lated since Jan. 29, will need med­i­cal fol­low-ups and all will now be able to con­tinue with their daily lives.

“We want to make sure you un­der­stand there should be no con­cern of novel coro­n­avirus from these 195 in­di­vid­u­als. They’ve been watched more than any­one in the United States at this time,” said Rear Adm. Dr. Nancy Knight, di­rec­tor of the CDC’s Divi­sion of Global Health Pro­tec­tion.

The group was mostly U.S. diplo­mats and their fam­i­lies, and they were the first to be trans­ported to a mil­i­tary fa­cil­ity from China.

Jamie Fouss, who served as a U.S. con­sulate gen­eral in Wuhan – one of the 195 Amer­i­cans who’d been quar­an­tined on the air base – told re­porters Tues­day that the 14-day quar­an­tine as “much eas­ier and bet­ter than imag­ined.”

There have been 13 U.S. cases of coro­n­avirus in Ari­zona, Cal­i­for­nia, Illi­nois, Mas­sachusetts, Washington and Wis­con­sin.

One U.S. cit­i­zen di­ag­nosed with the coro­n­avirus has died in Wuhan.

One case was re­ported Mon­day in San Diego. There are 420 peo­ple who’ve been tested in 41 states. Test re­sults came back neg­a­tive for 347, and the re­main­ing 60 are pend­ing, ac­cord­ing to the CDC.

Cruise ship al­lowed to dock in Cam­bo­dia

A Hol­land Amer­ica cruise ship that was turned away by five gov­ern­ments has got­ten per­mis­sion to stop in Cam­bo­dia to al­low its 2,200 pas­sen­gers and crew to get off. The MS Wes­ter­dam had been de­nied per­mis­sion to dock in the Philip­pines, Tai­wan, Ja­pan and Guam, al­though the cruise line says it has no con­firmed cases of the coro­n­avirus.

The ship had de­parted Hong Kong on Feb. 1 and was orig­i­nally sched­uled to dis­em­bark in Shang­hai on Satur­day be­fore coro­n­avirus gripped main­land China and forced a change in its itin­er­ary.

“All ap­provals have been re­ceived, and we are ex­tremely grate­ful to the Cam­bo­dian au­thor­i­ties for their sup­port,” the line said in a re­lease pro­vided by pub­lic re­la­tions di­rec­tor Erik Elve­jord to USA TO­DAY. The ship will dock in Si­hanoukvill­e on Thurs­day.

Mean­while, in Ja­pan, 39 new cases were con­firmed on a cruise ship quar­an­tined at Yoko­hama, bring­ing the to­tal to 174 on the Di­a­mond Princess.

Coro­n­avirus gets new name

WHO an­nounced a for­mal name for the coro­n­avirus – COVID-19.

WHO Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus said of­fi­cials needed a name that did not re­fer to a ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion, an an­i­mal, an in­di­vid­ual or group of peo­ple. It also had to be pro­nounce­able and re­lated to the dis­ease, he said.

“Hav­ing a name mat­ters, to pre­vent the use of other names that can be in­ac­cu­rate or stig­ma­tiz­ing,” he said. “It also gives us a stan­dard for­mat to use for any fu­ture coro­n­avirus out­breaks.”

“It would cer­tainly be re­as­sur­ing if we were now see­ing at least a slow­down of this out­break in China.” Dr. Nancy Mes­son­nier, U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion


Some of the 195 U.S. cit­i­zens quar­an­tined at March Air Re­serve Base since late Jan­uary cel­e­brate the end of their con­fine­ment Tues­day.

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