US coronavirus patient zero is being treated by ROBOT in bio-containment room

A passenger on a flight to Los Angeles International Airport from Mexico City has been hospitalized and quarantined after showing ‘disturbing’ symptoms consistent with China’s deadly coronavirus, health officials announced Thursday.  

The passenger, who has not been identified, arrived at LAX on American Airlines flight 2546 on Wednesday evening and was met by Los Angeles firefighters and police. 

Officials conducted a ‘deep contamination process’ after transporting the patient to a local hospital.  

The development came just one day after Los Angeles County public health officials warned it was ‘very possible’ that the area would see at least one coronavirus case given the number of people traveling between Southern California and China. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began conducting health screenings of passengers arriving at LAX – as well as four other major airports across the US – from China last Saturday.

The first US case of coronavirus – a Washington state man in his 30s – was confirmed on Tuesday. 

That patient is currently being treated by a robot in a guarded bio-containment room at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett as doctors are monitoring 16 people he came into contact with in the US during the five days before he was diagnosed. 

A passenger on a flight to Los Angeles International Airport from Mexico City has been hospitalized and quarantined after showing 'disturbing' symptoms consistent with China's deadly coronavirus, health officials announced Thursday

A passenger on a flight to Los Angeles International Airport from Mexico City has been hospitalized and quarantined after showing 'disturbing' symptoms consistent with China's deadly coronavirus, health officials announced Thursday

A passenger on a flight to Los Angeles International Airport from Mexico City has been hospitalized and quarantined after showing ‘disturbing’ symptoms consistent with China’s deadly coronavirus, health officials announced Thursday

The Washington state patient returned to the US from China on January 15 but was not officially diagnosed with coronavirus – which has killed 18 people and sickened more than 600 across at least 10 countries – until January 20.   

Officials say he visited Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus originated, before flying into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. 

He reportedly started experiencing symptoms the day after he returned and immediately sought medical treatment after seeing online coverage of the virus.    

The man is said to be in good condition and recovering at Providence Regional Medical Center – where he has been isolated in a 20-foot-by-20-foot bio-containment room. 

Dr George Diaz, head of the center’s infectious-disease program, said the patient is being monitored by a robot equipped with a camera, microphone and stethoscope to limit physical contact with hospital staff.  

Doctors are also monitoring more than a dozen people who the patient encountered – and therefore potentially infected – before being hospitalized.   

Heath officials have warned that the US will likely see additional cases of coronavirus as the deadly disease continues its spread at a much faster rate than previously thought. 

The first American to be infected with China's deadly new coronavirus is being treated by a robot in a guarded bio-containment room at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington (pictured) as doctors are monitoring 16 people he came into contact with in the US during the five days before he was diagnosed

The first American to be infected with China's deadly new coronavirus is being treated by a robot in a guarded bio-containment room at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington (pictured) as doctors are monitoring 16 people he came into contact with in the US during the five days before he was diagnosed

The first American to be infected with China’s deadly new coronavirus is being treated by a robot in a guarded bio-containment room at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington (pictured) as doctors are monitoring 16 people he came into contact with in the US during the five days before he was diagnosed

The unnamed man flew in to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from China on January 15 and returned to his home in Snohomish County before being diagnosed with the coronavirus five days later on January 20

The unnamed man flew in to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from China on January 15 and returned to his home in Snohomish County before being diagnosed with the coronavirus five days later on January 20

The unnamed man flew in to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from China on January 15 and returned to his home in Snohomish County before being diagnosed with the coronavirus five days later on January 20

More than 600 cases of coronavirus, a SARS-like disease, have been reported across 10 countries – including in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, the US and Saudi Arabia – since the first cases were reported in Wuhan in late December. 

Scientists estimate the true number of people infected since the outbreak began is in the thousands, possibly higher than 9,000.

The virus, called 2019-nCoV, is thought to have spread into humans from a Wuhan seafood market where wild animals were allegedly traded illegally.  

WHEN ARE PATIENTS  CONTAGIOUS? 

CDC officials are not 100 percent clear on when coronavirus patients are contagious but have said they suspect an incubation period of two to 14 days from exposure. 

Officials have warned that patients are most contagious after they begin showing symptoms but the disease can spread at a ‘much lower rate’ when asymptomatic.  

In the case of the Washington state man, experts say he was unlikely to have transmitted the disease to anyone because he sought treatment immediately after showing symptoms. 

International concern has grown with the revelation that the virus spreads not just from animals to people, but between people, likely in a similar way to how colds spread. 

Experts don’t yet know how quickly the disease can spread from person-to-person, but a World Health Organization (WHO) official has now said it is transmitted faster than previously thought.   

‘We are now seeing second and third generation spread,’ said Dr David Heymann, the chairperson of a WHO committee gathering data on the virus.

Third generation means that someone who became infected after handling animals at the market in Wuhan, China, could transmit the virus to someone else, who then passes it to a third person.

Heymann said the virus initially appeared to spread only by very close contact that would typically occur within a family, such as hugging, kissing or sharing eating utensils. 

He said new evidence suggests more distant contact could spread the virus, such as if an infected person were to sneeze or cough near someone else’s face.

Heymann noted that there is no evidence indicated that the virus is airborne and could spread across a room.  

Experts don't yet know how quickly the disease can spread from person-to-person, but a World Health Organization (WHO) official has now said it is transmitted faster than previously thought. The graphic above shows where cases have been reported as of Thursday

Experts don't yet know how quickly the disease can spread from person-to-person, but a World Health Organization (WHO) official has now said it is transmitted faster than previously thought. The graphic above shows where cases have been reported as of Thursday

Experts don’t yet know how quickly the disease can spread from person-to-person, but a World Health Organization (WHO) official has now said it is transmitted faster than previously thought. The graphic above shows where cases have been reported as of Thursday

The Washington state patient, who lives alone in Snohomish County, had traveled by himself from Wuhan but did not visit any of the markets at the epicenter of the outbreak, according to state health officials.

He did not fly directly home from Wuhan, but arrived on January 15, the day before screening was in place and before he developed symptoms.

He sought treatment on the 16th, was tested on the 17th and his diagnosis was confirmed on Monday the 20th, health officials said.   

CORONAVIRUS: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR 

What is this virus?

The virus has been identified as a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of pathogens, most of which cause mild respiratory infections such as the common cold.

But coronaviruses can also be deadly. SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is caused by a coronavirus and killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in the early 2000s.

Can it kill?

Yes. Seventeen people have so far died after testing positive for the virus. What are the symptoms?

Its symptoms are typically a fever, cough and trouble breathing, but some patients have developed pneumonia, a potentially life-threatening infection that causes inflammation of the small air sacs in the lungs. People carrying the novel coronavirus may only have mild symptoms, such as a sore throat. They may assume they have a common cold and not seek medical attention, experts fear.

How is it detected?

The virus’s genetic sequencing was released by scientists in China to the rest of the world to enable other countries to quickly diagnose potential new cases. This helps other countries respond quickly to disease outbreaks.

To contain the virus, airports are detecting infected people with temperature checks. But as with every virus, it has an incubation period, meaning detection is not always possible because symptoms have not appeared yet.

How did it start and spread?

The first cases identified were among people connected to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.

Cases have since been identified elsewhere which could have been spread through human-to-human transmission.

What are countries doing to prevent the spread?

Countries in Asia have stepped up airport surveillance. They include Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines.

Australia and the US are also screening patients for a high temperature, and the UK announced it will screen passengers returning from Wuhan.

Is it similar to anything we’ve ever seen before?

Experts have compared it to the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The epidemic started in southern China and killed more than 700 people in mainland China, Hong Kong and elsewhere

Officials emphasized that risk to the public is low and said there was no reason to panic.  

Janet Baseman, a professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health at the University of Washington, told the Daily Beast that the Washington patient was ‘very, very, very unlikely’ to have transmitted the disease to anyone else because went in for treatment immediately after showing symptoms. 

‘Usually people do not transmit viruses like this to other people until they have symptoms themselves,’ Baseman said.  

Health authorities said they began reaching out to everyone who came into contact with him on Tuesday to check whether they are showing symptoms, which can include fever, cough and runny nose.  

‘All the close contacts will be part of what we call “active monitoring”,’ Wiesman said.

‘That means that a public health worker will call the person daily to do a symptom check for them, see if they have a fever, cough, any respiratory issues.

‘And should anyone develop symptoms at any point in time, these people who are under monitoring will be instructed to immediately call a public health worker to report the symptoms, and then we would help facilitate a medical evaluation.’

Wiesman defined close contact as a person who was within six feet of the patient for a prolonged period of time. 

Officials have no recommended isolation for those people unless they develop symptoms, at which point they would be infectious.  

So far, people suspected or confirmed to have the coronavirus have been put into isolation as quickly as possible because experts are unsure of how contagious it is.

Potential patients in China have been pictured being moved around inside plastic whole-body tubes to avoid exposing health workers.

At least 15 medics have already become infected in Wuhan.  

Seventeen of the 18 patients who’ve died from the virus were in and around Wuhan. They ranged in age from 48 to 89, with an average age of 73. 

Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, is now on lockdown as public transport has been halted and citizens told not to leave the city except in an emergency. 

The quarantine came just ahead of Saturday’s Lunar New Year, which marks one of the China’s busiest travel seasons.   

Chinese officials have warned that the deadly new virus is mutating and becoming increasingly difficult to control. 

World Health Organization officials met Wednesday to decide whether to declare the outbreak a ‘public health emergency of international concern’, but members’ opinions were ‘split’ and the committee will continue deliberations on Thursday.  

A man is seen being wheeled out of an airport in Fuzhou, China, in a quarantine box after he reportedly showed possible coronavirus symptoms, including a fever, during a screening

A man is seen being wheeled out of an airport in Fuzhou, China, in a quarantine box after he reportedly showed possible coronavirus symptoms, including a fever, during a screening

A man is seen being wheeled out of an airport in Fuzhou, China, in a quarantine box after he reportedly showed possible coronavirus symptoms, including a fever, during a screening

Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, is now on lockdown as public transport has been halted and citizens told not to leave the city except in an emergency. Staff members are seen checking  body temperatures of passengers arriving on a train from Wuhan to Hangzhou on Thursday before the quarantine went into effect

Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, is now on lockdown as public transport has been halted and citizens told not to leave the city except in an emergency. Staff members are seen checking  body temperatures of passengers arriving on a train from Wuhan to Hangzhou on Thursday before the quarantine went into effect

Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, is now on lockdown as public transport has been halted and citizens told not to leave the city except in an emergency. Staff members are seen checking  body temperatures of passengers arriving on a train from Wuhan to Hangzhou on Thursday before the quarantine went into effect

Airports in the US are setting up screening for patients arriving from Wuhan in China. Pictured: People wearing masks as they arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday

Airports in the US are setting up screening for patients arriving from Wuhan in China. Pictured: People wearing masks as they arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday

Airports in the US are setting up screening for patients arriving from Wuhan in China. Pictured: People wearing masks as they arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday

Following confirmation of the first American case, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a plan to ‘funnel’ all inbound passengers from Wuhan to five major US airports equipped to screen for the virus. 

Screening checkpoints were set up at Los Angeles International Airport, New York’s John F Kennedy airport and San Francisco International Airport last week and additional checkpoints are being installed at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago and Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta by the end of this week.  

President Donald Trump said earlier this week that the US ‘has it totally under control’, adding ‘we do have a plan, and we think it’s going to be handled very well’. 

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT CHINA’S NEW KILLER CORONAVIRUS 

Nearly 600 people are confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus since it was first detected in late December. 

The outbreak of the killer strain, which has never been seen before, is believed to originated at a now-shuttered seafood market in Wuhan before travelers carried it to other parts of China and at least nine other countries. 

Cases have risen nine-fold in the space of a few days, with just 48 confirmed cases on January 17. 

At least 444 of the cases – and all 17 deaths – have occurred in the Hubei province, which includes Wuhan, with an additional 140 reported across other Chinese provinces.

Four cases have been confirmed in Thailand and one in each of the following countries: Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and the United States.  

Three more countries announced Thursday that they have recorded cases of the infection – Singapore, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia. 

Virologists fear that there will be a surge of cases as China enters its busiest travel period due to the Lunar New Year, which sees many people traveling back to the home town or village. 

The coronavirus is from the same family that caused previous outbreaks of SARS and MERS, killing hundreds of people in dozens of countries.

This picture released by the Central Hospital of Wuhan shows a medic donning full-body hazardous material suit looking after one patient who has been infected by a new deadly virus

This picture released by the Central Hospital of Wuhan shows a medic donning full-body hazardous material suit looking after one patient who has been infected by a new deadly virus

This picture released by the Central Hospital of Wuhan shows a medic donning full-body hazardous material suit looking after one patient who has been infected by a new deadly virus

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION DEBATES DECLARING PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY 

The WHO was expected to declare the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in a meeting held in Geneva on Wednesday – but members failed to come to a consensus and decided to reconvene Thursday.  

‘The decision about whether or not to declare a public health emergency of international concern is one I take extremely seriously, and one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence,’ Dr Tedros Adhanom, director general of the WHO, said after Wednesday’s meeting.  

Adhanom said there is a team in China working with local experts and officials to investigate the outbreak, and he added: ‘We will have much more to say tomorrow.’

If the UN body declares it an emergency, it will be just the sixth time in history that it has happened.

The only other outbreaks to have been granted such a status include the 2009 Swine flu epidemic, the resurgence of Polio in 2014, the worldwide spread of Zika in 2016 and the two most recent Ebola outbreaks in 2014 and last year. 

The WHO has already advised governments to be prepared for the disease and ready to test anyone with symptoms who has traveled to affected regions. 

US PUTS UP SHIELD 

The US announced its plan to stop the spread of the coronavirus after the first American case was confirmed on Tuesday. 

Officials have begin ‘funneling’ air passengers arriving in the US from Wuhan through five major airports to ensure all are screened for the virus.  

KILLER VIRUS MAY HAVE COME FROM BATS, SCIENTISTS SAY 

The killer coronavirus sweeping across the world may have come from bats, scientists have said.

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the People’s Liberation Army and Institut Pasteur of Shanghai came to the conclusion.

In a statement, the team said: ‘The Wuhan coronavirus’ natural host could be bats… but between bats and humans there may be an unknown intermediate.

Tests of the virus, which has yet to be named, have revealed it targets a protein called ACE2 – just like its cousin SARS, the South China Morning Post reported.

Tracing the evolution of the virus, the team of experts found it belonged to betacoronavirus, making it structurally similar to SARS.

Authorities have pointed the blame on food markets in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak that scientists are scrambling to contain.

Rodents and bats among other animals are slaughtered and sold in traditional ‘wet markets’, which tourists flock to see the ‘real’ side of the country.

Dr Martin Cetron, director for the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at the Centers for Disease Control, said the CDC has instructed the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Department to redirect anyone who tries to get from Wuhan to the US without going through any of those five airports by reissuing tickets or potentially rerouting entire flights. 

‘With increasing cases, we decided to move into this full-on, 100 percent coverage strategy, which means adding additional airports and … begin our funneling approach and redirect all the traffic to airports that have screening so that the benefit of the alert could be more completely covered,’ Cetron said Tuesday.  

When a traveler is sent for a screening in the US, they are first required to take a survey about possible symptoms, such as cough or fever, as well as whether they visited the meat or seafood markets in Wuhan that have been tied to the outbreak.  

If they appear to have any symptoms associated with coronavirus, they are taken to on-site triage for further examination and a temperature check.  

Two passengers flying from Shanghai on United Airlines were reportedly examined at O’Hare on Tuesday after appearing to show symptoms of coronavirus, the airline said.   

It’s unclear what led officials to single out the passengers, but they were both cleared and released after examination.

‘We continue to follow CDC guidelines and remain in close contact with authorities in the United States and Asia to further ensure the safety of our customers and employees,’ a United spokesperson told CNBC. 

President Donald Trump addressed the deadly new virus during remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, early Wednesday morning. 

He praised the CDC’s rapid response and said the situation is being handled ‘very well’.   

‘The CDC has been terrific, very great professionals. We’re in very good shape and I think China is in very good shape also,’ Trump said.  

The president added in an interview with CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’ that he was ‘not at all’ concerned about the possibility of a pandemic. 

‘It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control,’ he said. 

‘We have it totally under control. We do have a plan, and we think it’s going to be handled very well.’  

President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised the CDC and said he is 'not at all' concerned about the possibility of a pandemic

President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised the CDC and said he is 'not at all' concerned about the possibility of a pandemic

President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised the CDC and said he is ‘not at all’ concerned about the possibility of a pandemic 

A top official at the National Institute of Health (NIH) revealed Wednesday that human trials for a vaccine targeting 2019-nCoV could begin within three months.

Anthony S Fauci, the director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Bloomberg Law that his agency is working with Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech company Moderna Inc to develop the vaccine. 

‘We’re already working on it,’ Fauci said. ‘And hopefully in a period of about three months, we’ll be able to start a phase I trial in humans.’

Fauci said his agency was also working with the WHO and CDC to obtain information about helping doctors around the world identify symptoms of coronavirus.  

‘Obviously as is always the case when we have these outbreaks, it’s a lot of collaboration and synergy between the CDC and the WHO and the NIH,’ he said. ‘Our job ultimately is to develop countermeasures.’ 

Vaccine experts at Baylor University are also reportedly working on modifying a vaccine they designed to prevent SARS to protect against the new, related coronavirus.

But the school’s Dean of Tropical Medicine, which is developing the shot, Dr Peter Hotez, told DailyMail.com that it’s likely years away from deployment.  

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