Ethiopia begins airport screening against China virus

Ethiopia begins airport screening against China virus
Death toll rises day by day, World Health Organization says early to declare virus global emergency


(aa)–Ethiopia began screening at an Addis Ababa airport to curb the import of fatal China virus.

The announcement came in a statement by the Ethiopian Public Health Institute on Friday, the local broadcaster FANA reported.

One of the largest and most profitable airlines in Africa, Ethiopian Airlines has flights to and from countries that report coronavirus infections.

The announcement came just ahead of a major summit of heads of state and government of the African Union to be held early February in Addis Ababa, a cosmopolitan city where a number of major regional and international organizations have their headquarters, including the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) held a meeting on the virus in Geneva on Thursday. However, it did not declare the outbreak an international emergency.

The screening is being carried out at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport upon a recommendation by the WHO, FANA quoted the statement as saying.

An awareness-raising demonstration is being given to outbound travelers too, it said.

Since January, at least 26 people have died in the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China, with most cases recorded in the central Hubei province. Chinese officials confirmed that the virus has infected 881 people so far.

Third US coronavirus case confirmed in California as China death toll rises

John Bacon USA TODAY

A third U.S. case of the deadly new coronavirus that has killed more than 50 people in China has been confirmed in Southern California.

The Orange County Health Care Agency’s Communicable Disease Control Division said the individual was hospitalized in isolation in good condition. The patient had traveled from Wuhan, a Chinese city of 11 million people that is the outbreak’s epicenter.

The Orange County agency said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had confirmed the diagnosis. The agency was working with the CDC and the state Health Department, following up with people who had been in close contact with the patient and are at risk of infection.

“The current risk of local transmission remains low,” the agency said in a statement. “There is no evidence that person-to-person transmission has occurred in Orange County.”

The CDC says people who have casual contact with a case, such as in the same grocery store or movie theater, are at minimal risk of developing infection.

The first U.S. case, a Washington state man in his 30s, was diagnosed Tuesday. A second case, a woman in her 60s, was reported Friday in Chicago.

The CDC says more U.S. patients are likely. The virus, first diagnosed in China last month, has infected at least 1,975 people and killed 56 people there, according to that nation’s National Health Commission.

China Health Minister Ma Xiaowei said Sunday that it appeared the “ability of the virus to spread is getting stronger” and that it is infectious before symptoms show, a characteristic that could make it harder to contain.

“From observations, the virus is capable of transmission even during incubation period” of one to 14 days, Ma said. “There are hidden carriers.”

That makes this outbreak different from severe acute respiratory syndrome, SARS, a virus that was not contagious during incubation. SARS killed more than 600 people across mainland China and Hong Kong along with more than 100 other people around the world in 2002-2003.

The World Health Organization on Thursday declined to categorize the coronavirus as a global health emergency, lauding China for its efforts to contain the virus.

Chinese authorities have locked down Wuhan and at least two cities in an unprecedented effort to contain the virus during the busy Lunar New Year travel period. The U.S. closed its consulate in Wuhan and was pulling out its diplomats.

A small number of cases have also been diagnosed in Hong Kong, Macao, Thailand, Taiwan Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, France and Australia.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to pneumonia. Common signs of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Many of the initial cases were linked to a seafood and meat market in Wuhan. Chinese health officials said human-to-human transmission has been confirmed.