Coronavirus: US announces 15th confirmed case, as Wuhan evacuee in Texas tests positive

Bhavan Jaipragas

The United States on Thursday said it expected more coronavirus cases in the country in the days ahead as health officials announced a 15th confirmed infected person – this one an evacuee from China under quarantine in Texas.

The Centres for Diseases Control (CDC) said it had confirmed the latest case in the south-central US state after tests on Wednesday night, US Eastern time.

The newest case is quarantined in Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, in south-central Texas. Two patients had been quarantined earlier at US Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in Southern California. .

The case was the third infection to be found this week among the latest batch of US citizens evacuated from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak of the disease now known as Covid-19.

“The individual is currently isolated and receiving medical care at a designated hospital nearby. This brings the total number of Covid-19 cases in the United States to 15,” the CDC said in a statement. “There will likely be additional cases in the coming days and weeks, including among other people recently returned from Wuhan.”

Nearly 800 US citizens have been evacuated from Wuhan on five government-chartered flights since January 31, and all were ordered by the US government to be quarantined for 14 days, Washington’s first such measure in five decades.

Of the initial batch of evacuees – all housed at the March Air Reserve Base in California – 195 have been discharged after testing negative for the virus after the quarantine ended.

The quarantine measures had been largely uneventful until Wednesday, when the CDC conceded the occurrence of “a mishap” in which a person who had been found to be infected with the virus in Miramar was mistakenly classified as disease-free.

The person was briefly allowed to return to the base and mingle with other evacuees before the mistake was uncovered.

One of the planes which carried US evacuees from the virus zone in China. The US has confirmed its 15th case of coronavirus. Photo: AP

Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Centre for Immunisation and Respiratory Diseases, on Wednesday said the “mishap was unfortunate” but stated that the centre had “corrected this from happening again in the future by adding additional quality control”.

Coronavirus infections now total 60,386 globally, with 59,804 in China alone. The overall death toll stands at 1,370. Some 5,954 people have recovered from the virus.

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Beijing on Wednesday announced a surge of 15,152 new cases because of a change in diagnostic criteria. The new criteria included a “clinical diagnosis” of cases, using CAT scans by doctors in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located.

Earlier updates had relied solely on the results of lab tests.

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