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The number of confirmed cases worldwide of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is now 31,526, with 638 deaths. There have been no new confirmed cases in the United States, according to the WHO. Meanwhile, the CDC is actively investigating an additional 100 Americans suspected of coronavirus infection.
The Chinese ophthalmologist who was one of the first to sound the alarm about the new virus has died after being treated for the infection. Dr. Li Wenliang tried to alert others in the medical profession that he had become aware of several cases of a disease that was similar to SARS. Within days, local police reprimanded him for the posts; he later signed a statement in which he acknowledged making “false statements.” A ruling from China’s top court later vindicated him. Dr. Li was 34 years old.
Passengers aboard a cruise ship that docked this morning near New York City were assessed in port for the virus due to 27 passengers who had a recent travel history to China. Of the 27 passengers, 23 have been cleared. Four were taken to the hospital for further testing.
Approximately 300 more Americans have been evacuated from China. They will be taken to Eppley Airfield in Omaha, NE, and will be subjected to a 14-day quarantine.
In China, patients are currently being enrolled in a clinical trial for remdesivir. The investigational antiviral drug has not been studied in human patients with coronavirus infection, but it has shown promise in animal models. Others in the country are resorting to unorthodox routes to obtain treatment through HIV drugs, the “grey market,” and traditional medicine.
A new commentary in The Lancet concludes that steroids provide little benefit in patients with SARS—a disease similar to the one caused by infection with the novel coronavirus—and could do more harm than good. While the steroids did reduce lung inflammation in SARS and MERS patients during those outbreaks, the immunosuppressive effects outweighed the benefits.