February 14 coronavirus news
President Trump on Friday repeated the theory that the novel coronavirus will die out as temperatures rise in the spring, but scientists insist it’s just too soon to say for sure.
Infectious disease experts studying the virus say it may have a seasonal variation, or it may not. Several tell CNN it’s too early to tell, and nobody knows enough about the novel coronavirus to make assessments about its behavior.
“There’s a theory that in April, when it gets warm, historically, that has been able to kill the virus. So, we don’t know yet. We’re not sure yet. But that’s around the corner, so that will be a great thing in China and other places,” Trump said at a Border Patrol event at the White House.
CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told CNN in an interview, which aired Thursday, that the coronavirus may or may not be around past this year and it may or may not follow a seasonal variation — insisting only time will tell.
"We don't know a lot about this virus," he said. "This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission."
Trump also estimated that there were “around 12” confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the US. As of Friday, 15 individuals tested by the CDC tested positive for the coronavirus.
US officials are working together to make a plan for Americans on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, a director at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters on Friday.
There is no specific plan yet for the passengers, she said, but precautions are needed for the passengers — who may be at high risk from the novel coronavirus — and to avoid spread to others.
“It’s very important to all of us that all of these people are safe and taken well care of,” said Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet returned to shipping coronavirus test kits to state labs after some tests were initially found to be faulty, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Friday during a call with reporters.
The CDC wants to make sure that “every T is crossed before we put these kits back out, so we’re taking a little extra time here,” Messonnier said. She declined to give a specific timeline.
Why this matters: Earlier this week, the agency said some state labs had been unable to validate the test. The CDC is now remanufacturing a reagent used in the test that was yielding “indeterminate answers,” Messonnier said.
"What we’re doing at CDC is reformulating those reagents,” she said, "and we are moving quickly to get those back out to our labs” with state and local partners.
Before it began shipping these kits, the CDC was the only lab in the United States that could test for the virus. Experts say the new test kits open the door to confirming cases earlier, thus being able to take swift action to contain any further spread in the United States.
The CDC had previously announced plans to ship roughly 200 test kits to domestic labs and another 200 to international labs. Each test kit can perform 700 to 800 patient samples.
Public health labs in five cities will begin using existing flu surveillance to look for the spread of the novel coronavirus, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a call with reporters today.
The cities are:
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- New York City
Messonnier said this efficiently leverages the existing influenza surveillance systems to track whether the novel coronavirus is spreading in communities within the United States.
The labs will test for the coronavirus in samples that are negative for influenza.
Results from this will provide an early warning to trigger a change in the public health response, Messonnier said.
There have been 15 cases of the novel coronavirus confirmed in seven states: eight in California; two in Illinois; and one each in Arizona, Washington, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Texas.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists 443 people as under investigation for the novel coronavirus across 42 states, according to an update posted to the agency's website Friday.
- 15 have tested positive
- 347 have tested negative
- 81 are still pending
These numbers are cumulative since Jan. 21 and include people with travel history to China, as well as those who have been in close contact with confirmed cases or other people under investigation.
Confirmed cases in the US include eight in California, one in Texas, one in Massachusetts, one in Washington state, one in Arizona, two in Illinois and one in Wisconsin. There are two instances of person-to-person transmission, one in Illinois and one in California.
Two California cases and the Texas case are among evacuees from China.
This is an increase from Wednesday, when the CDC listed 420 people under investigation in 41 states, including 13 positive, 347 negative and 60 pending cases.
On Wednesday, China reported far fewer cases of the novel coronavirus than it did the day before, signaling that the spread of the virus could be slowing.
But the numbers were back up yesterday with China announcing a major jump in both new deaths and new cases.
There are many reasons we’re seeing this phenomenon, including variances in the incubation period and more people seeking treatment.
But one of the top reasons for the variation in numbers is the constantly changing definitions of what constitutes a case in China: Is it just when someone has a lab-confirmed test? Is it when they exhibit symptoms indicative of infection? Should someone who is asymptotic be counted?
The spike is partly due to a broader definition of what constitutes a confirmed case, to include people diagnosed on the basis of their symptoms rather than testing positive.
Keep in mind: This is normal.
“It’s normal during the course of an outbreak to adapt the case definition,” Dr. Sylvie Briand, director of the World Health Organization's Infectious Hazards Management Department, said during a news conference yesterday.
Here's a look at reported cases, according to World Health Organization data. Remember: These totals may differ from those reported by Chinese health officials, who report updated totals at different times than the WHO.
The World Health Organization has not yet had talks with Japan about potential impacts the novel coronavirus outbreak could have on the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer.
The Games are due to open in less than six months.
“At this stage, there has been no specific discussion or specific decision made regarding those mass events,” Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO executive director of Health Emergencies Programme, told reporters during a briefing today.
“We are very much engaged with those institutions and with those events, and we will and obviously offer them any support and technical advice regarding their own risk assessment,” Ryan said. “It’s not the role of WHO to call off or not call off any event. … We offer advice on risk reduction and risk mitigation measures.”
A German national in Spain's Canary Islands who had previously tested positive for coronavirus has since tested negative twice, and has been released from hospital quarantine, a spokeswoman from Spain’s Health Department confirmed today.
“The German citizen who had tested positive to the virus and was quarantined in La Gomera has tested negative twice in later tests. He has been released from hospital following the necessary protocols,” the spokeswoman said.
“He was always asymptomatic but was kept in hospital after testing positive to the virus in the first test,” she added.
According to the Health Department, five German nationals who had been traveling with the individual in question were also quarantined, but tested negative to the virus.
This now leaves only one person infected with the virus in Spain – in Palma de Mallorca.
The World Health Organization-led joint mission to China is expected to touch down this weekend, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said today during a press conference.
The mission will include 12 international and WHO experts and a similar number of national expert counterparts from China, he said.
The experts will be reviewing data, in-depth workshops and making field visits in three provinces, among other plans. Ghebreyesus said they will stay as long as they are needed, depending on the scope of work. He said the members of the mission are experts in their fields, but declined to describe the makeup of the international team.
“The goal of the joint mission is to rapidly inform the next steps in the COVID-19 response and preparedness activities in China and globally,” Ghebreyesus said.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has offered to send experts to China, but that offer has not yet been accepted.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNN that the US US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first offered to send experts to China on Jan. 6.
"It's dependent on the Chinese to make their decisions and facilitate that," Azar said. "The World Health Organization, we believe, has secured agreement to deploy a WHO team with our US public health experts as part of that team. We are ready to go and we are waiting for final clearance from the Chinese government to make that happen."