Coronavirus Updates: U.S. Soldier Tests Positive for Virus in South Korea

An American soldier in South Korea has tested positive for the new coronavirus, the U.S. military said on Wednesday.

The patient, a 23-year-old man, is based in Camp Carroll in Waegwan, only 12 miles from Daegu, the South Korean city at the center of an outbreak in the country.

The soldier, the first U.S. service member to become infected, has been quarantined in his off-base residence, the military said.

The soldier visited Camp Walker, a military base in Daegu, on Monday and visited Camp Carroll from Friday to Tuesday.

South Korean and American “health professionals are actively conducting contact tracing to determine whether any others may have been exposed,” the military said.

The military added that it was “implementing all appropriate control measures to help control the spread of Covid-19 and remains at risk level ‘high’” for all its 28,500 soldiers stationed in South Korea “as a prudent measure to protect the force.”

Those measures include advising all troops to “limit non-mission essential” meetings and “off-installation travel.” At the gates of the American military bases across South Korea, stations have been set up to administer temperature checks and screening questionnaires.

On Tuesday, the United States and South Korea said they would consider scaling back joint military exercise after an outbreak among South Korean soldiers had infected at least 13.

South Korea reported 169 new patients on Wednesday, bringing the total number to 1,146, the biggest outbreak outside China. More than half of the patients were residents of Daegu.

Americans should brace for the likelihood that the coronavirus will spread to communities in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday.

“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country anymore but a question of when this will happen,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

President Trump, in India, said that the United States was well able to protect itself against the spread of the coronavirus and offered an optimistic outlook.

“I think the whole situation will start working out,” Mr. Trump said during a news conference. [Watch the video.]

But his own health officials were not so upbeat. Dr. Messonnier said that public health officials have no idea whether the spread of the disease to the United States would be mild or severe, but that Americans should be ready for a significant disruption to their daily lives.

“We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad,” Dr. Messonnier said.

The secretary of health and human services delivered an equally sobering message on Tuesday. The secretary, Alex M. Azar II, told a Senate committee, “This is an unprecedented, potentially severe health challenge globally.”

“We cannot hermetically seal off the United States to a virus,” Mr. Azar said. “And we need to be realistic about that.”

Federal and local health departments will need as many as 300 million masks for health care workers and additional ventilators for hospitals to prepare for a major outbreak of the coronavirus, he said. On Monday, the Trump administration requested $2.5 billion to help stop the spread of the virus.

Lawmakers from both parties made it clear they were unconvinced the Trump administration was prepared. When Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, pressed for an exact number of people expected to be infected, the acting secretary of the Homeland Security Department, Chad F. Wolf, could not answer.

“I’m all for committees and task forces but you’re the secretary,” Mr. Kennedy responded. “I think you ought to know that answer.

A clinical trial has begun in Nebraska to test whether an experimental drug can treat the new coronavirus, starting with an American who was quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, the National Institutes of Health said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration said it was closely watching the supplies of 20 unrelated drugs that are either made in China, where the epidemic has drastically reduced manufacturing, or contain ingredients from China. The agency did not say which drugs, but the world relies heavily on China for supplies of many essential medications, like aspirin and penicillin.

  • Updated Feb. 25, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is probably transmitted through sneezes, coughs and contaminated surfaces. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • Where has the virus spread?
      The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than 80,000 people in at least 33 countries, including Italy, Iran and South Korea.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      The World Health Organization officials have been working with officials in China, where growth has slowed. But this week, as confirmed cases spiked on two continents, experts warned that the world is not ready for a major outbreak.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The C.D.C. has warned older and at-risk travelers to avoid Japan, Italy and Iran. The agency also has advised against all non-essential travel to South Korea and China.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

In the trial, the patient is being treated with the drug remdesivir, an antiviral developed by Gilead Sciences.

The test is taking place at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, which has a special biocontainment unit, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the N.I.H. Thirteen people from the cruise ship have been taken there for treatment.

There are no approved treatments for illnesses caused by coronaviruses, including the new one, known as Covid-19. Remdesivir is already being tested in two clinical trials in China, but efforts to enroll patients there have faltered.

“We urgently need a safe and effective treatment for Covid-19,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the allergy and infectious diseases institute, at a briefing at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Several companies are also working to develop a vaccine for the virus. One of them, Moderna, said Monday it had delivered an experimental vaccine to the N.I.H. for early testing in humans, a record-setting pace.

But “even at rocket speed,” releasing a vaccine would take at least a year, Dr. Fauci cautioned.

He projected that initial human trials would begin in a month and a half, with about 45 people, and last three to four months. Then it would have to be expanded to “hundreds, if not thousands” of subjects in countries with active disease transmission, which would take six to eight months, he said.

A day after its worst one-day slide in two years, the S&P 500 fell 3 percent on Tuesday in response to the coronavirus threat, a decline that put the blue chip index firmly in the red for the year.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to a record low, a possible sign that investors expect growth in the United States to slow.

Investors continued to dump stocks a day after the S&P 500 had lost 3.4 percent, after officials in Italy and South Korea reported new infections on Monday.

Tuesday’s decline came as federal officials warned that the epidemic was likely to reach the United States with potentially severe impacts.

For weeks, U.S. investors had largely shrugged off the economic risks of the virus even as it disrupted global supply chains and shut down factories in China. As recently as last Wednesday, the S&P 500 was at a record high. Fears have grown stronger about the virus’s effect on the global economy.

The declines in the S&P 500 were led by energy, industrial and materials shares, the sectors of the market closely tied to Chinese demand for raw materials.

As stocks dropped sharply, investors moved into the safety of government bonds, pushing their prices up and yields down.

A coronavirus outbreak in Italy, the worst outside Asia, appears to be spreading. New cases — most linked to the Italian epicenter, Lombardy — were reported on Tuesday in Spain, Austria, Croatia, Switzerland and France.

The authorities in Algeria reported their country’s first confirmed case, an Italian, though it was not immediately clear if the person had been in Italy recently.

Italy reported a total of 322 infections through Tuesday, up from 229 a day earlier, with reports of new cases in Tuscany and Sicily. The death toll rose to 10, from seven.

Austrian authorities said two 24-year-olds from Lombardy living in Innsbruck, Austria, had tested positive.

A 36-year-old Italian woman living in Barcelona tested positive after returning from a trip to Lombardy, according to Spanish authorities. They are also dealing, on the island of Tenerife, with a couple from Lombardy who are both infected.

A man who visited Milan in mid-February has become Croatia’s first confirmed coronavirus patient, the Croatian prime minister, Andrej Plenkovic, said in a news conference.

France announced two new cases, one a young Chinese woman who arrived in early February and the other a Frenchman returning from a trip to Lombardy.

The reports added to fears that the virus could spread rapidly across the Continent, where the Schengen zone allows largely free movement among 26 countries.

Olivier Véran, France’s health minister, said after a meeting of European health ministers that they were working on a “collective strategy.”

“As of now, we wish to be extremely clear on the fact that there is no reason to close the borders between our countries, which would be disproportionate and inefficient,” he told reporters in Rome.

Italy has installed checkpoints and deployed its army to the “red area” in Lombardy, Michele Capone, a carabinieri official, told the Italian news agency ANSA. With public gatherings restricted, the soccer team Internazionale of Milan will play its home game on Thursday, against Ludogorets of Bulgaria, without fans in the stadium.

In southern Italy, the region of Basilicata has said it will quarantine arriving northerners, while the regions of Puglia and Calabria have asked travelers from affected areas to inform the local authorities.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Monday that such restrictions were “not justified.”

The government of Croatia took pains to emphasize its preparedness and project calm. But the virus’s emergence in the Balkans could test poorly funded health systems, which are hemorrhaging medical professionals bound for western Europe.

Budapest Airport announced that it procured a thermal camera last week and would rent another to screen travelers for fevers, while experts warned that Hungary was ill-equipped for an outbreak.

Just one day after confirming Bahrain’s first infection, the country’s health ministry said Tuesday that it had 23 cases — most of them people arriving on flights from the United Arab Emirates.

On Monday, Bahrain imposed a 48-hour ban on flights arriving from Sharjah and Dubai, in the U.A.E.

Those flights often carry people traveling to and from Iran, regional news media said, but Bahrain’s health ministry did not say if any of the new cases involved such people. The case reported on Monday was linked to Iran.

If any of the new infections are tied to Iran, it would deepen concerns that the country is playing down both the extent of the outbreak there and its role in spreading the virus to other nations. Cases in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Oman,…


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