The number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the U.S. jumped to 11 Sunday with three confirmed cases announced by California health officials.
One case was in Santa Clara County. The others, a husband and wife, were located in San Benito County, Reuters reported. The Santa Clara County case involved a woman who had traveled to Wuhan, China. In the San Benito County cases, the husband had recently traveled to Wuhan and transmitted the disease to his wife.
In addition to these and other cases that have been reported in California, there are two cases in Illinois and one case each in Massachusetts, Arizona and Washington state. New York City officials said Saturday they are awaiting tests on a suspected case there.
On Sunday, China reported that 361 people had died from the virus, according to The New York Times. The SARS outbreak during 2002 and 2003 killed 349 people in China.
China announced that there were 17,238 confirmed cases of people infected with the virus. To date, only one case outside China — an individual in the Philippines — has been fatal. The World Health Organization said there have been 151 confirmed cases in 23 countries other than China.
Experts are now using the word pandemic to describe the virus.
“It’s very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said, according to The New York Times.
“But will it be catastrophic? I don’t know,” he said.
It is “increasingly unlikely that the virus can be contained,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said.
“It is therefore likely that it will spread, as flu and other organisms do, but we still don’t know how far, wide or deadly it will be,” he said.
“This looks far more like H1N1’s spread than SARS, and I am increasingly alarmed,” Dr. Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said. “Even 1 percent mortality would mean 10,000 deaths in each million people.”
The head of the World Health Organization, however, cautioned against panic.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus said “panic and fear” were the real challenges facing society.
“So the 146 [cases] means that it is very small; there is nothing to be scared of,” he said, according to The Washington Post. “If we are going to take this in the right perspective, it should be used as a signal to prepare.”
China on Monday accused the U.S. of overreacting to the virus.
“The U.S. government hasn’t provided any substantial assistance to us,” Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said in a briefing carried out through China’s WeChat app instead of in person due to the virus.
“But it was the first to evacuate personnel from its consulate in Wuhan, the first to suggest partial withdrawal of its embassy staff, and the first to impose a travel ban on Chinese travelers. All it has done could only create and spread fear, which is a bad example,” she said.
“The U.S. is turning from overconfidence to fear and overreaction,” she said.
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