It didn’t take long for the Wuhan coronavirus to spread across land, sea, and air. The new strain of coronavirus first grabbed headlines in early January 2020. The Chinese Communist Party government admitted to some identified cases and a few deaths, all originating in the country’s central capital city of Wuhan in the province of Hubei.
An unidentified Washington man in his 30s from Snohomish County north of Seattle had returned from Wuhan in mid-January. He was diagnosed and put into quarantine at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington on January 20. Officials said:
“The unnamed patient…arrived in the U.S. on an indirect flight to Seattle-Tacoma airport on Jan. 15 — before airports began screening travelers from Wuhan.”
On January 21, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Washington State Department of Health revealed the first case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the United States in Washington State.
On January 23, Chinese officials took action to isolate people at the highest risk of exposure:
“Public transport in and out of Wuhan was effectively shut down at 10 am on Thursday and residents were told to remain in the city unless they could provide ‘special reasons’ for leaving.”
Days before the Wuhan viral containment program went into full force in China, the disease had already spread across the globe to Northwest America.
Health care staff who treated the man at a local clinic were asked to quarantine themselves to see if symptoms of coronavirus appear. County and federal health officials started to trace the patient’s travel route and contact fellow passengers and anyone else who made close contact with him.
Now, the anonymous 35-year-old Wuhan virus patient has been discharged from hospital care. In a statement to the Associated Press (AP) the survivor said:
“I am home and continuing to get better. I ask that the media please respect my privacy and my desire not to be in the public eye.”
The unknown man who bested the unknown coronavirus claimed he looks “forward to returning to my normal life.”
The Washington resident will remain in self-imposed quarantine while coordinating his ongoing care with the Snohomish Health District and the hospital staff.
The section chief of infectious diseases at Providence Regional Medical Center, Dr. George Diaz, said a robot provided the initial care of the diseased man:
“All interactions between myself and the patient initially were through the use of a robot, which is basically a telehealth module that we use outside the room in our command center.”
The remote-controlled robot can move about the quarantined area without exposing any human caregivers to the risk of infection.
As of January 23, Diaz reported that his patient had received supportive therapy and was in stable condition. The medicos were waiting for testing and discharge instructions from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On January 31, President Donald J. Trump signed a presidential proclamation that spelled out new temporary measures to limit the spread of new coronavirus infections into the U.S. The following federal measures went into effect at 5 pm Eastern Time on February 2 and will be coordinated with the U.S. Department of Health:
“Any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been in Hubei Province, China, in the previous 14 days will be subject to health screening and up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine to ensure they are provided proper medical care should they need it.”
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf issued official instructions to direct “all flights from China and all passengers who have traveled to China within the last 14 days to be routed through one of eight U.S. airports, effective Sunday, February 2nd, 2020, for flights departing after 5:00 pm Eastern.”
Since February 2, Americans flying to the United States from China have been – and continue to be – redirected to the following airports at no cost to the traveler:
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
- Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington
- Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii
- Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX), California
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia
- Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas
- Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), Michigan
Travelers who spent time in China outside the Hubei province are being re-routed through one of the 11 airports. If they show no symptoms after a medical screening, the passengers will be re-booked to their destination and asked to self-quarantine voluntarily at their homes.
As of February 5, 2020, at 19:45 GMT, the number of confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in the U.S. rose to 12: six confirmed cases in California, one in Arizona, one in Massachusetts, two in Illinois, and one in Wisconsin.