California monitoring 8,400 people for possible coronavirus
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[February 28, 2020]
By Andrew Hay and Hilary Russ
(Reuters) - California is monitoring more
than 8,400 people who arrived on commercial flights for coronavirus
symptoms from "points of concern," but the state lacks test kits and has
been held back by federal testing rules, Governor Gavin Newsom said on
California has only 200 test kits, but has appealed for testing
protocols to be expanded to include Americans who may catch the virus as
it spreads through U.S. communities, Newsom told a news briefing in
Sacramento, the state capital.
Newsom said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
has assured the state that testing protocols will be advanced and access
to test kits will expand "exponentially" in the coming days.
California on Wednesday reported a coronavirus case of unknown origin,
making it potentially the first incident of the virus spreading within
"It is not surprising that we have seen these mini outbreaks occur
around the world," said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, an epidemiology professor
at the University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public
Health. "We know the virus is easily spread."
The female patient, who lives in northern California's Solano County,
was not initially tested for the new coronavirus because she did not
meet criteria laid out by the CDC, according to a statement by UC Davis
Medical Center in Sacramento, where she is being treated.
Dr. Sonia Angell, California's state public health officer, said local,
state and federal health investigators were contacting and isolating
individuals who may have been exposed to the patient.
Solano County is the home of Travis Air Force Base, one of the U.S.
military bases in California that have acted as quarantine centers for
U.S. citizens repatriated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the
current coronavirus outbreak.
"She had to be exposed from someone else with coronavirus. We know that
people with infection were taken to places of isolation or quarantine in
that general area," Klausner said.
UC Davis said no one on its main campus has tested positive for the
virus, known as COVID-19, but "out of an abundance of caution," three
campus residents are currently in isolation. One of them, who is showing
symptoms of illness, has been tested for the virus, but the results are
not yet in.
[to top of second column]
California governor Gavin Newsom reacts after signing SB 113, which
will enable the transfer of $331million in state funds to the
National Mortgage Special Deposit Fund in San Diego, California,
U.S. October 9, 2019. REUTERS/ Mike Blake/File Photo
The CDC's protocol had called for coronavirus testing in individuals
with a fever or respiratory illness who have a travel history or
contact that could have led to exposure to the virus.
California officials said this protocol had to be expanded in light
of the "inevitable" local spread within the United States. At least
33 people had tested positive for the virus, but five have since
left the state, official said.
"The case from yesterday is giving the CDC a lot to consider on
revising those protocols so more individuals will be tested," said
Mark Ghaly director of California's Health and Human Services
Agency, referring to the woman from Solano County.
MORE KITS AND PERSONNEL
CDC Director Robert Redfield told a U.S. congressional hearing on
Thursday that more test kits were being sent to California and the
agency now backs expanded testing.
"When a clinician or a public health individual suspects coronavirus,
then we should be able to get a test for coronavirus, so that's the
current guidance that went out today," he said.
Newsom said the CDC has pledged to send more personnel to California
to track the potential spread of the virus.
With new infections reported around the world now surpassing those
in mainland China, the World Health Organization's director general,
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Thursday even rich nations
"No country should assume it won't get cases, that would be a fatal
mistake, quite literally," Tedros said, pointing to Italy, where 17
people have died in Europe's worst outbreak.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ and Andrew Hay; Additional reporting by
Deena Beasley; Editing by Bill Tarrant, Bill Berkrot and Leslie
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