Health

Second case of Coronavirus confirmed in the US

Individuals with no ailments infected more, say first set of clinical findings for Chinese patients

 
By Banjot Kaur
Last Updated: Friday 24 January 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the second case of novel coronavirus (2019-CoV) infection in the United States on January 24, 2020. The patient had returned to the state of Illinois from Wuhan, the epicentre of the infection, on January 13. 

A statement from the CDC read: “The patient returned to the US from Wuhan on January 13, 2020, and called a health care provider after experiencing symptoms a few days later.  The patient was admitted to a hospital, where infection control measures were taken to reduce the risk of transmission to other individuals. The patient remains hospitalised in an isolation room in stable condition and is doing well.”  

Health authorities were investigating the locations this patient visited after returning to Illinois, the statement added. “The patient has limited close contacts, all of whom are currently well and who will be monitored for symptoms. Since returning from China, the patient has had very limited movement outside the home,” the CDC said. 

Though the risk of infection in China remains high, it is low for Americans, the US health body said. However, it warned that the number of cases in the country may see a spurt in the coming days. 

First findings 

A first-of-its-kind study of 41 Chinese patients who were among the first to be examined between December 16, 2019, and January 2, 2020, was also released on January 24. The findings have been published in The Lancet. More than 25 researchers of various institutions of China have researched for the findings presented in the paper. 

A majority of affected cases are healthy individuals who had no other co-morbidities, according to the study.  Less than a third of the cases occurred in people with underlying chronic medical conditions such as diabetes (20 per cent, 8 patients), high blood pressure (15 per cent, 6 patients), and cardiovascular disease (15 per cent, six patients). 

The average age of patients was 49.9 years. Most of the patients were men. 

The most common symptoms at onset of illness were fever (40 of 41 patients), cough (31 patients), and myalgia or fatigue (18 patients).  

The less common symptoms were sputum production, headache and diarrhoea. The blood counts of patients on admission showed low white blood cell count. All the 41 patients had pneumonia.

As many as 66 per cent patients were directly exposed to the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan. It is believed that seafood from the market was consumed and the virus got transmitted to humans.

Of the 41 patients, about one-third were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit because they required high-flow nasal cannula or higher-level oxygen support measures to correct hypoxaemia. 

Within seven days of onset of infection, the patients had to be admitted to hospital and within eight days, they developed difficulty in breathing. 

Is any treatment available? “As 2019-nCoV is an emerging virus, an effective treatment has not been developed for disease resulting from this virus,” the paper said.

“Since the combination of lopinavir and ritonavir was already available in the designated hospital, a randomised controlled trial has been initiated quickly to assess the efficacy and safety of combined use of lopinavir and ritonavir in patients hospitalised with 2019-nCoV infection,” the paper said. Corticosteroids and antiviral treatment must be avoided by physicians, it added. 

While the World Health Organization refused to declare the Coronavirus as a global health emergency on January 24, this Lancet paper said the chances of a pandemic due to it can’t be ruled out.

“Because of the pandemic potential of 2019-nCoV, careful surveillance is essential to monitor its future host adaption, viral evolution, infectivity, transmissibility, and pathogenicity,” it said.

Airborne precautions such as N-95 respirator and other protective equipment are recommended by it.

Meanwhile, 881 confirmed cases have been reported in China till January 24. The death toll stands at 26. 

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