The deadly new coronavirus is continuing to spread across the globe, wreaking havoc in China, sickening a second person in the United States and leaving health officials on high alert in New York state, New York Post reports.
Gov. Cuomo revealed Friday that three people were under observation in the state after potentially being exposed to the virus. The state Health Department at one point had as many as four cases under investigation, but one proved negative, Cuomo said.
Citing confidentiality, officials declined to say where in the state the three suspected cases were located. No cases were so far being reported in New York City, where two international airports and a large Chinese immigrant population put residents at risk from an outbreak that began in Wuhan, China.
Wuhan, the coronavirus epicenter and a city of 11 million people, remained on virtual lockdown.
Officials shut down all mass transportation in Wuhan, and hospitals grappled with a flood of patients and a lack of supplies. A clip from Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan and verified by Storyful showed staff and patients walking in corridors as bodies covered in sheets line the floors.
Another video on Twitter showed panicked patients flooding another Wuhan hospital. Officials in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province, scrambled to build a 1,000-bed hospital by Monday, state media reported.
Images showed more than two dozen earth movers working across a dirt field to start construction of the hospital. In an effort to curb the crisis, China has extended its quarantine to 41 million people ahead of the Lunar New Year on Saturday.
Elsewhere in China, major cities, including Hong Kong and Shanghai, faced a shortage of face masks as stores struggled to keep up with the demand.
Parts of the Great Wall of China and other tourist hot spots — including the Ming Tombs, Yinshan Pagoda Forest and the Bird’s Nest stadium, the main venue for the 2008 Olympics — have also been shuttered. Shanghai Disneyland, which has a 100,000-person daily capacity and sold out during last year’s Lunar New Year holiday, will close on Saturday.
The latest confirmed US case was a woman who fell ill after returning home to Chicago on Jan. 13 from a trip to Wuhan that began in December.
She began showing symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath three or four days after returning. She was placed into isolation at a hospital and was in stable condition.
“This is a single travel-associated case — not a local health emergency,” Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Public Health, said at a press conference.
Arwady insisted the risk of infection for others was low.
“To our best knowledge, she has not had extended close contact with anyone outside her home since returning from China and prior to her admission into the health-care system,” she said.
Arwady wouldn’t divulge which airline the woman traveled on, reiterating, “This patient was not symptomatic when she was traveling, which lowers the risk.”
Health officials began screening people for the virus last week at JFK Airport, as well as San Francisco International and Los Angeles International airports. The three airports normally receive the highest number of travelers from Wuhan although travel between the Chinese city and the US has since been suspended.
This particular strain of coronavirus, called the novel coronavirus, is believed to spread via respiratory droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. There is currently no vaccine to combat the virus, which, in serious cases, can cause pneumonia and organ failure.
The deadly iteration of coronavirus likely originated from a food market in Wuhan that sold wildlife for human consumption.