Update (1150ET): Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the Director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), spoke on behalf of the CDC. During the press conference, she said that the US had identified 110 people who are under observation and being tested for the virus. While 5 cases have already been identified in the US, another 32 have definitively tested negative.
Though a vaccine remains elusive, the Messonnier said the CDC had developed a diagnostic test that can quickly confirm cases of the virus. So far, CDC researchers have seen no signs of “mutation” in the virus. If the virus does mutate, as Chinese scientists suggested it might, that could create problems for those trying to develop the exam. On Friday, a “blueprint” for the test was uploaded and shared with the world. All governments can now follow this blueprint to develop their own tests..
Right now, the CDC is focused on providing tests to “priority” states (presumably, Cali, Washington, Arizona and Illinois, the states where cases have been confirmed). But soon they will expand the program to supply governments in need.
The CDC has also uploaded the entire genome of the virus from the first two cases. From what the CDC can tell so far, the virus doesn’t appear to be “mutating”, as some Chinese officials had suggested.
Messonnier stressed that this is a “rapidly changing situation” both here and abroad, adding that the virus has spread to 16 countries from China.
“Our thoughts are with the people on the front lines of this emerging health threat in China,” she said.
US airports are now screening passengers from Wuhan. The purpose of this is not just preventative: It’s intended to educate passengers about symptoms of the virus, and how to mitigate risk of infection while traveling abroad. The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all non-essential travel to Hubei province, and that anybody traveling to China should take certain precautions.
Returning travelers with symptoms may be asked to take precautionary measures.
Battered US stocks briefly spiked when Messonnier said that although a handful of cases have been identified in the US, the overall general health risk to the community remains “low at this time.” Still, she caveated this by insisting that the situation remains very much in flux.
* * *
Update (1030ET): Chinese state media have just confirmed that Beijing has suffered its first confirmed death from the novel coronavirus. They also confirmed 8 new confirmed cases.
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 27, 2020
Macau has just confirmed its seventh case.
The total number of confirmed cases has climbed to 2882, though the true number of cases out there is likely much higher, as experts have warned.
* * *
Update(1000ET): US stocks are deep in the red Monday morning, on track for their worst day in four months, thanks to the fact that the market and the world realized over the weekend that the extremely infectious novel coronavirus has overwhelmed China’s capacity to contain it.
And right on time, here comes President Trump, with a weak attempt to pump the market.
Minutes ago, the president tweeted that the US had offered China “any help that is necessary”, while advising that the US is “strongly on watch” for signs that the virus is spreading.
We are in very close communication with China concerning the virus. Very few cases reported in USA, but strongly on watch. We have offered China and President Xi any help that is necessary. Our experts are extraordinary!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2020