U.S. evacuates Americans from Wuhan. Report suggests city was seat of bio-warfare lab. New cases in Chicago & SoCal reported. Virus reaches Europe.
How bad is the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak? So bad that the normally secretive president of China, Xi Jinping, formally announced the rate of infections of the potentially deadly coronavirus is ‘accelerating’ and that at least one doctor has died from the virus.
The virus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan, already on lockdown and where the virus is thought to have originated, banned most vehicle use downtown and Hong Kong said it would close schools for two weeks as authorities scramble to stop the spread of an illness that has infected more than 1,400 people worldwide and killed 41.
Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke following an emergency government meeting to warn that the spread of the killer virus is worsening, as video emerged showing medics collapsing at hospitals in the capital of central China’s Hubei province as the coronavirus outbreak continues to move across the world.
At the time of this writing, the Wuhan coronavirus has killed 41 people and infected over 1,300 more. The U.S. government has now sent a charter flight to Wuhan in an effort to evacuate its citizens and diplomats.
The U.S. consulate contacted known American citizens living in Wuhan where the virus is believed to have originated from and offering them a seat on the 230 person flight back to the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the operation.
According to the report, those interested will be responsible for the cost of being evacuated which could cost many times more the price of a commercial flight from China directly to the U.S.
Snakes and bat soup have been identified as possible sources of the new virus, which causes severe respiratory distress, pneumonia, and kidney failure. However, according to an Israeli biological warfare expert, the deadly animal virus may have originated in a Wuhan laboratory linked to China’s covert biological weapons program.
Radio Free Asia this week rebroadcast a local Wuhan television report from 2015 showing China’s most advanced virus research laboratory known the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Radio Free Asia reported.
The laboratory is the only declared site in China capable of working with deadly viruses.
Dany Shoham, a former Israeli military intelligence officer who has studied Chinese bio warfare, said the institute is linked to Beijing’s covert biological weapons program.
“Certain laboratories in the institute have probably been engaged, in terms of research and development, in Chinese [biological weapons], at least collaterally, yet not as a principal facility of the Chinese BW alignment,” Mr. Shoham told The Washington Times.
The first American coronavirus patient, a Seattle-area man, is being treated mainly by a robot, and he is in stable condition.
U.S. health officials have also diagnosed a Chicago-area patient with the illness and are monitoring 63 other patients who are suspected of being at risk of infection with the pathogen.
Officials said the new patient, a woman in her 60s, is doing well and is in stable condition. She remains isolated in a hospital as a precaution, U.S. health officials said on a conference call with reporters. The Illinois patient traveled to China in late December and began experiencing symptoms when she returned to the U.S. last week, officials said. She did not have symptoms while flying, they said.
“She was not symptomatic when flying. And based on what we know now about this virus, our concern for transmission before symptoms develop is low, so that is reassuring,” Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s public health commissioner, said on the call.
One of those 63 include a third patient who now has been officially diagnosed with the Wuhan Coronavirus in southern California.
Orange County Health Care Agency announced that a patient in California had tested positive for novel coronavirus.
The agency said the patient had traveled from Wuhan and reached out to the health care agency prior to being diagnosed. They were given guidance to avoiding exposing the public to the virus while waiting for test results.
‘The individual has now been transported to a local hospital and is in isolation in good condition,’ added the agency who did not identify the patient. ‘In consultation with the CDC and the California Department of Public Health, the HCA is following up directly with all individuals who have had close contact with the case and are at risk of infection.’
Meanwhile, the first cases are being reported in Europe as French health officials announce two patients there have sickened with the disease.
Both patients had traveled to China, the epicenter of the deadly outbreak that’s cropped up in a half-dozen other countries, leaving at least 26 people dead.
“We have two cases,” said France’s Health Minister Agnes Buzyn. “We will probably have other cases.”
One of the people sickened is a 48-year-old man who passed through Wuhan — where the coronavirus originated — before traveling to France on Wednesday. He is hospitalized in the southwestern city of Bordeaux, while the second person is hospitalized in Paris.
Buzyn said the second person also traveled to China but she had little other information on their case.
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