A worker in a protective suit stands near the closed seafood market in Wuhan, Hubei province, China on Jan. 10, 2020. The seafood market is linked to the outbreak of the pneumonia caused by the new strain of coronavirus. REUTERS/Darley Shen
Health officials are investigating whether a patient in Brazos County is sick with the same deadly coronavirus that is wreaking havoc across China, as cities there are being placed on lockdown to prevent its spread.
The unnamed patient is a student at Texas A&M University who traveled from Wuhan, China, where the virus originated, Brazos County Health Authority Dr. Eric Wilke said in a Thursday press conference. The patient is currently isolated at home while precautionary testing is being completed. Wilke wouldn’t confirm whether the student lives in on-campus housing, but said the student seems to be improving.
The student went to a local emergency room Wednesday afternoon, concerned about mild symptoms that came after traveling to Wuhan. Medical professionals familiar with the virus and its origin flagged the patient and initiated tests.
Patient samples were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offices in Atlanta for testing. Wilke said he expects results over the weekend or Monday. If the virus is confirmed, the next step would be tracing the patient’s trail of contact to see who else might have been exposed, Wilke said.
The virus produces flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, and sore throat, according to the CDC.
Texas A&M released a statement Thursday acknowledging that a student might be sick with the virus.
“Texas A&M continues to work with its Student Health Services and the Brazos County Health District. Officials have described the immediate health risk to the campus community as low,” school officials said.
The CDC confirmed on Tuesday the first known case of coronavirus in the United States was identified in Washington state. That person had also recently traveled from Wuhan, China.
At least five cities in China have been placed on a lockdown, with airports, buses and subways suspended in an effort to contain the outbreak, according to media reports.
Currently, at least 18 victims were confirmed dead and more than 600 infected, however, none of those were in the United States.
As of Thursday, coronavirus cases were confirmed in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and the United States, according to the CDC.
After two days of deliberation, The World Health Organization is holding off on declaring a global health emergency, but will reconvene within 10 days.
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