Packed flights left Coronavirus ground zero just hours before quarantine for NYC and Chicago, where new case confirmed – The Sun
TWO flights bound for the United States took off from Wuhan in China just hours before officials quarantined ground zero for the Coronavirus.
Asiana Airlines Flight 909 took off from Wuhan Tianhe International Airport at 5:25am on Thursday en route to Chicago, where it landed at 7:30am local time that same day after a brief stop in Anchorage to refuel.
On Friday, officials confirmed that an individual in Chicago had tested positive for Coronavirus.
The Sun has learned that there were four international flights out of Wuhan in the 14 hours prior to the quarantine at 10am on Thursday.
China Southern Airlines 8419 left at 8:30pm on Wednesday for John F Kennedy International Airport in New York City.
The Boeing 787, which seats 276 passengers, touched down in the Big Apple at 9:30pm on Wednesday.
It is unclear how many people were on Wednesday night's flight, and China Southern did not respond to a request for comment from The Sun.
An hour later, a flight took off from Wuhan bound for Sydney.
That flight landed the following morning at 11:30am, possibly carrying as many as 264 passengers.
China Southern also operated the flight from Wuhan to Rome that departed at 1am on Thursday, arriving in Italy at 4:30am that same day.
Up to 300 passengers and crew could have travelled on that Boeing 787, which then flew back into China and is expected to touch back down in Wuhan at 2am on Saturday.
The last flight out of Wuhan before the quarantine was Asiana 909, which took off at 5:30am on Thursday and, due to the time difference, landed in Anchorage on Wednesday night at 8:45pm.
It refuelled there for just over two hours, and shortly after 11pm continued on to Chicago.
The Center for Disease Control announced last weekend that passengers arriving from Wuhan would be screened before they enter the United States.
Those screenings will be set up in five airports the agency announced earlier this week – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Atlanta.
Anchorage, where the last flight bound for the US from Wuhan first touched down, is not one of the airports on that list.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the Center for Disease Control announced the second confirmed case from Chicago during a news conference on Friday.
That individual was not on the plane that touched down on Thursday, but had travelled on that same flight 10 days prior.
"She was not symptomatic when flying. And based on what we know now about this virus, our concern for transmission before symptoms develop is low, so that is reassuring," explained Chicago public health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady on a call Friday.
The CDC warned Americans in a release on Friday that they had developed a diagnostic test to detect this virus in clinical specimens and were working on putting together kits so that these tests could be performed outside of CDC facilities.
Coronaviruses tend to circulate among animals including cats and bats as well as some large mammals like camels.
In rare cases, these virus evolve and are passed to humans, as happened at some point over the past few months in Wuhan.
"While originally thought to be spreading from animal-to-person, there are growing indications that limited person-to-person spread is happening," the CDC explained in a release earlier this week.
"It’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people."
There were 63 Americans being observed for the virus as of Friday morning across 22 states.
Four of those individuals were in New York.
The first United States case of Coronavirus was confirmed to be a man in his 30s in Washington state earlier this week.
The Chicago patient is in her 60s.
There are now more than 200 individuals who have tested positive for Coronavirus.
All those infected had been to the Hubei province prior to testing positive for Coronovirus, which is why its capital Wuhan and some surrounding towns and cities have been put on quarantine.
The situation is a bit perilous however as Lunar New Year celebrations begin across China, and the country's 1.38 billion residents prepare to celebrate their biggest holiday of the year.
Officials have been extra cautious and shut down all public transport out of Wuhan and are hoping this will halt the spread of the virus that has now claimed 26 lives.
The World Health Organization seems to feel confident this will be enough to stop the spread of the virus, and on Thursday declined to formally designate the new virus as a global health emergency.
At the same time, some medical experts claim that the deadly repository virus can be spread though the eyes.
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