UPDATE, Jan. 23: Washington health officials say the number of people they are closely monitoring for symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus has tripled in the last day.
That's after a Snohomish County resident fell ill with the virus shortly after returning from a trip to Wuhan, China — the region where the virus first emerged.
Washington State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy says, as of Thursday, the total number of people they've identified who came in close contact with the patient is 43.
"I think that's pretty close to the total number that we will have, things can always change, these investigations are pretty dynamic and we learn new information every day," Lofy said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes only people who came in close contact with the infected man — meaning within 6 feet for a sustained period of time — are at risk. Lofy says the health department will continue to look for anyone who might possibly fall into that category. Health officials believe the risk of the virus spreading to the general public in Washington remains quite low.
The patient with the virus is a man in his 30s who has not been identified. He remains in stable condition and is being kept in isolation at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett.
UPDATE, Jan. 22: Washington health officials have identified 16 people who came in close contact with a Snohomish man infected with Wuhan coronavirus. That number is expected to grow in the coming days.
Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman says it doesn’t appear any of the 16 people they are monitoring have symptoms.
The man, who has not been identified, is currently in good condition and remains in isolation at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.
A Washington state man is the first confirmed U.S. case of the new Wuhan coronavirus, which has spread from China to a handful of countries in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, Washington state health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the patient is a resident of Snohomish County who had spent several months traveling in Wuhan, China.
He’s currently in stable condition and being kept in insolation at a hospital in Everett, while doctors monitor his condition and determine whether he’s contagious.
“This is certainly not a moment for panic or high anxiety,” Gov. Jay Inslee said on Tuesday. “It is a moment for vigilance.”
The patient took an indirect flight from Wuhan and arrived in Washington on Jan. 15 without any symptoms. Shortly after, he fell ill and went to a nearby clinic.
“At that time, it was suggested to him that he remain in isolation at home,” Inslee said.
On Monday, samples were confirmed by the CDC in Atlanta that the patient carried the novel coronavirus.
“This is a new virus, so we don’t know when you’re truly infectious,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, the Washington state epidemiologist for communicable diseases.
The new coronavirus has been traced to a large seafood and animal market in Wuhan, but the virus also can be spread from person to person.
Health officials said it doesn’t appear people are passing the virus as they simply walk through airport terminals. Instead, the risk of transmission comes from close contact with someone infected with the virus for a sustained amount of time.
The Washington patient said he did not visit any animal markets and did not spend time with anyone he knew who was ill.
Lindquist said the incubation period can last up to 14 days, but there are still unknowns: “Does it constitute an exposure before you’re even ill? And then how long should we monitor? So those things are all going to be worked out in the next day or two by the CDC.”
Health authorities in Washington are tracing all the people the patient may have come in contact with on the plane, in the airport, on the way home, and at the doctor’s office.
The symptoms of the coronavirus can resemble the common cold: sore throat, a cough and fever. In some people, the virus can progress and be fatal.
Across the country, some passengers flying from China are being redirected to five major airports for screening, before they can continue to their final destinations.
Dr. Satish Pillai with the CDC says they developed tests to accurately detect the virus, which led to the diagnosis of the Washington patient in just 24 hours.
“I think this was a really good case in point of the timeliness of testing to help inform clinical decision making,” Pillai said.
The CDC will be distributing those tests to state health agencies in the coming weeks.