2 newborns among 28,000 coronavirus cases as death toll tops 550 originally appeared on abcnews.go.com
Two newborns are among the more than 28,000 people who have been infected globally with the novel coronavirus.
The infants, one just 30-hours-old, tested positive for the newly discovered virus on Wednesday at a children’s hospital in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak. Both babies are in stable condition, but the confirmed infections raise concerns about the possibility of mother-to-fetus transmission of the disease, according to the state-owned China Daily newspaper.
They are believed to be the youngest cases recorded thus far.
The first cases of the new coronavirus were detected in Wuhan last December. As of early Thursday local time, China’s National Health Commission said it had received 28,018 reports of confirmed cases and 563 deaths across China’s mainland. Hong Kong has confirmed nearly two dozen cases and two patients have died in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.
More than 200 cases have been confirmed in over two dozen other nations and territories, including the United States. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a global health emergency.
The only known fatality outside China from the novel coronavirus was a 44-year-old man in the Philippines.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Geneva on Thursday, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there’s still many unknowns about the new coronavirus.
“It’s hard to believe that just two months ago this virus was unknown to us,” Ghebreyesus said. “To put it bluntly, we’re shadowboxing.”
“We need to bring this virus out into the light so we can attack it properly,” he added.
The WHO has shipped 250,000 tests to more than 70 labs across the globe, and the organization is training lab workers to use them. But scientists still don’t know the source of the outbreak or its natural resevoir, and they don’t fully understand its transmissibility or severity.
“To defeat this outbreak,” Ghebreyesus said, “we need answers to all those questions.”
A 12th coronavirus case in the United States was confirmed by health officials in Wisconsin on Wednesday. The patient, who recently visited Beijing and was exposed to known cases of coronavirus while traveling, tested positive for the disease and has not been hospitalized, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
The individual is isolated at home and is in good condition. Health officials will monitor the patient’s close contacts, as well as the health care workers who cared for the individual, for signs of illness.
“The risk of getting sick from 2019 novel coronavirus in Wisconsin is very low,” Jeanne Ayers, a state health officer, said in a statement Wednesday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shipped newly-approved coronavirus tests to health labs across the country so states can begin their own diagnostic testing, rather than have all samples from patients go to the agency’s headquarters in Atlanta.
The United States has evacuated a number of its citizens from China amid the health crisis.
Two charter flights from Wuhan, with a total of approximately 350 passengers, landed at the Travis Air Force Base in Northern California on Wednesday. One of the planes refueled at the base before continuing on to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, according to a statement from U.S. Army Lt. Col. Christian Mitchell.
Upon arrival at the final destination, all travelers will be screened by CDC medical personnel and placed under a federally mandated 14-day quarantine. The U.S. Department of Defense “will work closely with our interagency partners and continue to provide support to the situation as requested,” Mitchell said.
The CDC confirmed Wednesday that its medical staff had completed health screenings on all 167 evacuees from China who had arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego. Three adults and one child “were determined to have fever or a cough that warranted them being transported to a local hospital for further evaluation,” the CDC said in a statement.
Two more evacuation flights from Wuhan are expected to arrive in the United States later this week. Passengers will go through a similar screening and quarantine process when they land at military bases in San Antonio, Texas, and Omaha, Nebraska.
The passengers who were quarantined last week after returning from Wuhan are expected to be released Feb. 11, officials said, as long as they and their immediate family members remain healthy.
“As of today, based on what we know about this virus, the far outside of incubation period is 14 days,”Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a news conference Wednesday.
The new coronavirus causes symptoms similar to pneumonia that can range from mild, such as a slight cough, to more severe, including fever and difficulty breathing, according to the CDC. There is not yet a proven effective treatment for the disease.
Meanwhile, officials have expressed fears that the outbreak could disrupt the 2020 Summer Olympics slated to take place in Tokyo this July.
“I am extremely worried that the spread of the infectious disease could throw cold water on the momentum toward the Games,” Toshiro Muto, chief executive of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, said during a meeting Wednesday with officials from the International Paralympic Committee. “I hope that it will be stamped out as soon as possible.”
In an updated statement released Thursday, the Tokyo 2020 Press Office said there are “countermeasures” being taken against the new coronavirus and other infectious diseases ahead of the Olympic Games to ensure a “safe and secure” event. For instance, the Japanese government has established the Novel Coronavirus Headquarters while the Tokyo metropolitan government has set up an internal task force.
“Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with all relevant organisations which carefully monitor any incidence of infectious diseases,” the statement said, “and we will review any countermeasures that may be necessary with all relevant organisations.”
Concerns about how the outbreak could impact the upcoming Olympic Games bubbled to the surface this week as at least 20 people aboard a cruise ship docked in Japan tested positive for coronavirus.
Since arriving at the Japanese port of Yokohama on Monday, the Diamond Princess has been quarantined at sea while all passengers and crew on board undergo health screenings. Those who tested positive for the newly identified virus have been taken ashore to a hospital in the coastal prefecture of Kanagawa. The patients include elderly people and foreign nationals, according to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
“Quarantine of the cruise ship continues to be implemented,” the ministry said in a statement Thursday. “We are currently conducting a new coronavirus test for those who need it, and the results will be announced later.”
A spokesperson for Princess Cruises, which operates the ship, said that those who tested positive include seven Japanese guests, three guests from Hong Kong, three American guests, two Canadian guests, two Australian guests, one guest from Taiwan, one from New Zealand and one crew member from the Philippines.
There were 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew members aboard the Diamond Princess. Approximately half the guests are from Japan, and more than 400 passengers on the ship are from the United States, according to the cruise line spokesperson.
“The health and safety of our guests and crew remains our top priority,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We continue to work closely with the Japan Ministry of Health on all protocols and procedures while ensuring the comfort of our guests.”
ABC News’ Erin Schumaker contributed to this report.