The coronavirus outbreak that is raging in China continued to spread Monday, with just over 40,000 cases and 908 deaths now confirmed.
Those numbers far exceed the toll of the 2003 SARS outbreak, in which 8,098 were infected and 774 died worldwide, the Associated Press reported.
Outside China, more than 440 cases have been reported, including two deaths.
As of Monday morning, a total of 23 Americans onboard a quarantined cruise ship in Japan have also now tested positive for the virus, according to the AP. So far, a total of 136 passengers on the Diamond Princess, docked in Yokohama, Japan, have confirmed illness and 600 0f the 3,711 passengers have requested medications.
Late last week, a 60-year-old man living in Wuhan, China, became the first American citizen to die from the new coronavirus that first surfaced in that Chinese city.
The man, whose name has not been disclosed, died Thursday at Jinyintian Hospital in Wuhan, the U.S. Embassy in China said Saturday. According to the Washington Post, the embassy issued a statement with “our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss. Out of the respect for the family’s privacy, we have no further comment.”
It’s not clear why the man was not able to leave Wuhan on one of a number of U.S. State Department evacuation flights that brought hundreds of Americans to the United States over the past week, but he may have already been too ill to fly.
In Tokyo, Japan’s Foreign Ministry also announced the death from coronavirus of the first Japanese citizen, a man in his 60s living in Wuhan, the Post reported.
Only two people living outside of China have so far died of coronavirus, the Post noted — a Wuhan man in the Philippines and a man in Hong Kong.
Last week, the United States began to bar entry to any foreigners who have recently traveled to China. U.S. citizens who have recently traveled to the Hubei province of China, where Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, is located, will be quarantined for up to 14 days, U.S. health officials said. U.S. citizens who have recently traveled to other parts of China will face health screenings and voluntary quarantines of up to 14 days.
Many U.S. citizens have already fled China. Over the past two weeks, five flights have evacuated a total of about 840 Americans from China, according to the U.S. State Department. Passengers have been tested for coronavirus and placed under quarantine for at least a week upon their arrival in the United States.
“The measures we are taking may not catch every single returning traveler with this novel coronavirus, given the nature of this virus and how it’s spreading,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the U.S. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a media briefing last week.. “But if we can catch the majority of them, that will slow the entry of this virus into the United States.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced recently that it had fast-tracked a test for the virus in an effort to help speed screening efforts.
“Today, the test kits will start shipping to over 100 U.S. public health labs,” Messonnier said during a media briefing last week. “Initially, 200 test kits will be distributed to U.S. domestic laboratories, and another 200 will be distributed to selected international laboratories. Each test kit can perform 700 to 800 patient samples.”
So far, 12 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed so far in the United States, with the latest case reported in Wisconsin, the AP reported.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the American actions were taken because there are “a lot of unknowns” surrounding the virus and its transmission path, the Times reported.
“The number of cases have steeply inclined with every day,” Fauci noted.
The temporary entry ban applies to foreign nationals, with the exception of relatives of citizens and permanent residents.
The World Health Organization has already declared the new coronavirus outbreak an international public health emergency. Experts fear the outbreak could become a pandemic, where there are outbreaks on more than continent.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the new coronavirus.
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