Colorado Has Its First Potential Case of The Wuhan Coronavirus

AP Photo/Vincent Thian
Health officials watch thermographic monitors at a quarantine inspection station at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.

UPDATE, Saturday, Jan. 25: Possible Colorado Coronavirus Case Has Lakewood Hospital Officials Taking Precautions

Updated Jan. 25, 9:15 a.m.

Centura-St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood has isolated a patient while they investigate the possibility that the person is suffering from a potentially deadly novel coronavirus.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment wrote in a Tweet Friday evening that the patient, who was not publicly identified, had a history of travel from Wuhan, China, where the disease has claimed 38 of the 41 known fatalities.

"Upon the patient's arrival, the hospital took all precautions recommended by CDC," the state health department wrote. "These included that the patient wear a mask and be placed in an isolation unit as a precautionary measure until diagnosis."

In the Tweet, they said the risk to the general public is still low.

In the wake of the announcement, the Denver Chinese School canceled its Lunar New Year celebration for Saturday. In an announcement on their site, they cited the rising risk of infection.

"This has been an extremely difficult decision as hundreds of performers and volunteers have been working diligently in the past few months for this event. But the health and safety of our beloved guests, attendees, and crew has the highest priority to us."

All 41 of those who have died from the disease were in China, where nearly 1,300 additional cases are being treated. Additional cases have been confirmed in the United States, Australia and France.

The CDPHE said in the Tweet that it will be several days before tests can determine whether the Lakewood patient actually has novel coronavirus.

In a statement, Sen. Cory Gardner said he had been in contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the outbreak. "I stand ready to help local and state officials respond if the need arises," he said in the statement.

Coronaviruses are named for the spikes that surround the virus, which make it look like a solar corona. They cause a respiratory disease that is particularly hard on the elderly or anyone with pre-existing conditions. It can lead to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which can lead to death.

Scientists know that the virus can be transmitted from person to person, but are uncertain how beyond suspecting that it is spread through coughing and sneezing.

While experts are concerned about the Chinese coronavirus outbreak, they also point out that about 200,000 Americans each year contract flu viruses so severe they lead to hospitalization, with 35,000 deaths.