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U.S. novel coronavirus cases rise to 11, CDC reports

The number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the U.S. has risen to 11, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday.

That includes a second case of someone who became sick with the flu-like illness after they were exposed to a “close household contact” in California, said Nancy Messonnier, who directs the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Confirmed cases have also been identified in Washington state, Illinois, Arizona and Massachusetts.

One hundred and sixty-seven people have tested negative for the virus, and test results for another 82 people are pending, Messonnier said on a call with reporters Monday. Messonnier explained that a negative test most likely means the person is not infected. But since public health experts are still working to understand how the virus behaves, it may also mean the infection has not developed enough to be detected in the test, she said.

“This is a new virus,” Messonnier said, adding that researchers are still studying how quickly the virus develops.

Since late December, 361 people have died and another 17,200 people have become sick from novel coronavirus in China, the World Health Organization reported Monday. To contain the virus, Chinese authorities shut down transportation for more than a dozen cities, effectively putting 50 million people under mass quarantine. Worldwide, 151 additional cases have been confirmed in 23 countries, including one death in the Philippines, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Each day seems to bring new cause for concern, fueled by continued community transmission and a growing volume of cases in the world, as well as the rising number of deaths, including one outside China, Messonnier said. On Thursday, the WHO declared novel coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern, ramping up resources around the globe.

On Friday, the Trump administration announced travel restrictions to prevent further spread of the virus, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. People flying back from China will be routed to 11 airports for screening: New York-JFK, Chicago O’Hare, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Honolulu, Los Angeles International, Washington Dulles International, Newark International, Dallas-Fort Worth and Detroit.

On Sunday, the U.S. began restricting entry for some people, including:

Foreign nationals who visited mainland China in the prior 14 days, excluding immediate family of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.
Any returning U.S. citizen who spent time in Hubei province (where the virus originated) in the last 14 days. They will be subject to medical quarantine for up to two weeks.
Any U.S. citizen who has traveled elsewhere in China. They will undergo a “proactive health screening” at the 11 designated airports and undergo monitored self-quarantine for up to 14 days to ensure they pose no risk of spreading the illness.

These measures are going into effect after the U.S. placed 195 U.S. citizens under federal quarantine on March Air Force Base in Southern California last week. All people had been airlifted from Wuhan, China, and are now under a 14-day period where medical staff regularly check their temperature for fever and monitor their symptoms for cough and lower respiratory infection. This week, the U.S. will evacuate more planeloads of Americans from China, placing them under similar quarantine, Messonnier said.

“Strong measures now may blunt the impact of this virus on the United States,” she said.

The CDC does not recommend the use of face masks as a way to prevent the virus’ spread. Instead, public health officials encourage frequent handwashing with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds and covering your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze. See a doctor immediately if you develop fever and cough and have recently traveled to China or have been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of novel coronavirus.

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