Three more novel coronavirus cases reported in US

Students on Arizona State campus
Students on Arizona State campus

Wolterk / iStock

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today that its testing has confirmed three more Wuhan-linked novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) cases, two in California and one in Arizona, raising the national total to five.

Last night, the Orange County Health Care Agency (OC HCA) announced a 2019-nCoV case in a person who had traveled to Wuhan, marking the third US case. In a statement, it said the traveler had been in contact with health officials while waiting for test results and received guidance on how to reduce exposure to the public while waiting for test results.

The person is now in hospital isolation in good condition. California health officials are tracing and monitoring the patient's contacts.

This afternoon, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LAC DPH) said a person returning from Wuhan sought care once they noticed they weren't feeling well, and testing confirmed a 2019-nCoV infection. The patient is currently hospitalized.

At a media telebriefing today, Nancy Messonnier, MD, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said the third newly confirmed patient is from Arizona's Maricopa County and also had recently traveled to Wuhan.

Maricopa County's health department said in a joint statement with the Arizona Department of Health Services today that the patient is a member of the Arizona State University community who does not live in university housing. The person is not severely ill and is in isolation.

The two earlier cases were from Washington state, confirmed on Jan 21, and in Chicago, confirmed 2 days ago.

(For international 2019-nCoV updates, see today's related CIDRAP News story.)

More cases expected

"With our enhanced surveillance, we expect to find more cases," Messonnier said.

Testing is under way on more than 100 people from 26 states, and so far 5 have tested positive and 25 were negative. Messonnier said the CDC expects to receive more cases for testing in the coming days, which is a good sign that clinicians have a high level of suspicion.

She acknowledged that many people are worried about the disease but said risk depends on exposure, and there's no sign that 2019-nCoV is spreading in the community. The current risk is low, the threat is serious, and the CDC's response is aggressive, Messonnier added.

No evidence of asymptomatic spread

When asked about quotes today from a Chinese health official who said asymptomatic people appear to be spreading the virus, she said the CDC has seen the reports. "We at CDC don't have any clear evidence, but we are closely investigating that possibility."

The CDC is closely evaluating all contacts of US patients identified so far with a tiered approach, with an extra focus on those at higher risk, she said.

Health officials continue to collect and examine virus gene sequences from patients to look for the origin and any clues on what to expect from 2019-nCoV, Messonnier said. Also, she noted that CDC scientists have isolated and are growing the virus, and are working on a way to efficiently share it with the scientific community.

See also:

Jan 26 CDC statement

Jan 25 OC HCA press release

Jan 26 LAC DPH news release

Jan 26 Maricopa County Public Health Department statement

This week's top reads