- The Washington Times - Friday, January 24, 2020

U.S. health officials Friday confirmed a second person infected with the new coronavirus that has sickened more than 800 and killed 26 as Chinese authorities shut down more cities to contain the illness.

The person is a Chicago woman in her 60s who traveled back from Wuhan Jan. 13. She has been placed in isolation at an unnamed hospital and is stable, said Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been investigating 63 suspected cases of the coronavirus in 22 states. Of those 63, two tested positive and 11 tested negative. The CDC did not release a list of the states.

President Trump, who on Wednesday said China had the virus “totally under control,” thanked President Xi Jinping for his transparency.

“China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!,” President Trump tweeted Friday afternoon.

Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were jointly briefed on the virus with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee by health officials Friday.

A Seattle man in his 30s this week tested positive for the virus after returning to Washington state from Wuhan. Hospital staff were monitoring him at the Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. 

Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the CDC assured the risk of the coronavirus to Americans is low, but said more confirmed cases are likely to emerge. 

Chinese authorities are rushing to lock down more cities near Wuhan, where the virus originated at a large seafood market that reportedly sold wild animals illegally. They have expanded travel restrictions to at least 12 cities close to the capital city of Hubei province. 

All public transportation, outbound flights, ferries, and rail and bus services had been shut down in Wuhan, a city of about 11 million people, before similar measures began elsewhere. 

An estimated 36 million Chinese, in the country of 1.4 billion, will be on lockdown this weekend as the Lunar New Year is celebrated. 

Temples locked their doors, Beijing’s Forbidden City, Shanghai Disneyland and other major tourist destinations closed, and the country shut down its 70,000 movie theaters.

Wuhan authorities said they are rapidly constructing a new 1,000-bed hospital to deal with the crisis, to be completed Feb. 3. It will be modeled on a SARS hospital that was built in Beijing in just six days during the SARS outbreak.

While most cases are in China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, in addition to the U.S., have reported confirmed cases. 

Five U.S. airports have screened more than 2,000 travelers in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta. Of those passengers, the CDC has not found any cases and only one person was sent for additional medical evaluation. 

Chinese authorities Monday said the coronavirus can spread between people, setting off global alarm. The animal source of the coronavirus is unknown. 

Dr. Messonnier told reporters Friday it is too early to say if the new coronavirus is more or less infectious or severe than SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), a virus that belongs to the same family that killed close to 800 in 2002 and 2003. 

This article is based in part on wire-service reports.

• Shen Wu Tan can be reached at stan@washingtontimes.com.

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