SAN FRANCISCO (Up News Info SF) – Calling it an "early warning system," Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar announced Friday that influenza patients in San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago also they would undergo tests to detect the coronavirus.
In a CNBC interview, Azar said the threat of the disease was quite low, but that state always has the potential to change rapidly.
"We are deploying the full force of the United States government to protect the health and safety of the American people," he said.
In China, the disease had made 63,851 people sick at the end of Thursday, 5,090 more than the day before. The death toll, meanwhile, has increased to 1,380.
California has had the most confirmed cases of coronaviruses in the United States with nine, of which four have been in the Bay Area. There have been two confirmed cases in Santa Clara County and a husband and wife from San Benito County were being treated at UC-San Francisco Hospital.
The symptoms of the flu can be very similar to those of the coronavirus, so Azar said his agency deployed an "early warning system,quot; on Thursday, ordering the coronavirus test in five cities.
"We are using our flu surveillance network in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, where people with symptoms similar to the Chinese influenza virus or coronavirus will be tested not only to detect the flu, but also for the coronavirus of China. " He told CNBC. “That way we have an early warning system. We have no epidemiological reasons to believe we have cases out there, but we want to be sure. ”
Azar also said his agency was closely monitoring the growing outbreak of coronavirus in Singapore, where 67 cases have been confirmed.
"We are accessing the information hour by hour," he said when asked about the Singapore outbreak and possible travel restrictions. “We will take the steps that are guaranteed if the data supports it. With Singapore, one of the questions is whether we are seeing a true spread of the multigenerational community … or if we are really seeing a first generation cluster that really isn't that kind of multigenerational spread. We have to get to the bottom of this. ”
In another development on Friday, several news agencies reported that a man on United Airlines flight 901 from San Francisco to London was taken off the plane on a stretcher on Friday after showing possible signs of the coronavirus.
According to reports from passengers on social networks, the sick traveler was isolated at the back of the plane and then transported to a hospital. The other passengers were asked to complete a Health England contact form and were then allowed to disembark.
Zeng Yixin, deputy director of the National Health Commission in China, announced Friday that more than 1,700 Chinese medical workers have been infected by the new virus.
Six of the workers have died, Zeng said at a press conference.
The health commission is "very concerned about this issue,quot; and has issued guidelines for the prevention and control of infections within medical institutions, he said.
Medical workers account for approximately 3.8% of confirmed cases from three days ago, Zeng said.
Elsewhere, Japan confirmed seven more cases, one day after it reported its first death from the virus. Japan now has 258 confirmed cases, including 218 of a cruise ship, the Princess Princess, which has been quarantined in Yokohama.
Health officials allowed 11 elderly passengers to leave the ship on Friday after they tested negative for the virus. They are the first group of dozens of older passengers expected to get off the ship before the end of their 14-day quarantine period on February 19 to reduce the risks of deteriorating their health.
Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said Thursday that passengers 80 years of age or older with chronic health problems or in windowless cabins that can be opened can leave the ship if they pass the virus test.
More than 580 cases have been confirmed outside mainland China and three deaths, one in the Philippines and Hong Kong, and now a Japanese woman in her 80s. Health officials are investigating how it became infected.
© Copyright 2020 Up News Info Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. Associated Press contributed to this report.