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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

CDC Hospitalizes 4 Coronavirus Evacuees With Symptoms In San Diego

 February 6, 2020 at 10:15 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 For people showing possible coronavirus symptoms are being evaluated at hospitals in San Diego. Here's dr Francesca [inaudible] with UC San Diego health. Late this morning during a news conference. Speaker 2: 00:11 They're all doing well and we are waiting results to return from the CDC and results could be coming back as early as Saturday morning. Speaker 1: 00:24 Those four were among the group of nearly 170 people evacuated from China who arrived at MCA S Miramar yesterday. The rest of the group is being quarantined at the base for 14 days to be monitored for possible symptoms of Corona virus. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman has been following the story and joins us now from UC San Diego health, where that news conference just wrapped up. Matt, welcome. Hey Jay, you were just at that press conference with representatives from two local hospitals. What did they say about the status of the four people who were transported to local hospitals? Speaker 3: 00:59 Right in first, I'll just back up a little bit. So, uh, yesterday evening, uh, these two hospitals say that they got word from the CDC that there were four patients, three adults, and one child who were showing signs. Uh, just like flu, like symptoms, cough, sneezing, and they were taken to two local hospitals. So we had two adults, two separate adults not related, were taken to UC San Diego medical center in Hillcrest. And then we had a father and his daughter that were taken over to Rady children's hospital. Now the update that we're getting is that all four of the patients are doing very well at the father and their daughter. They wanted to pass along that they are doing very well. Um, and they're just continuing to monitoring on this is all out of an abundance of, of precaution. This was always the plan. Uh, when these evacuees were taken to Miramar 167 of them, if any of them showed any signs of the coronavirus, which is very similar to the flu, that they would be taken to local hospitals. Speaker 1: 01:48 And you know, you mentioned that those four people, um, you know, they were coughing, sneezing, had flu like symptoms, you know, are there any other symptoms associated with the coronavirus? Speaker 3: 01:57 The other symptom is high fever. Basically, we were just talking about it at this news conference here this morning. That cough and high fever are the big telltale signs of the coronavirus. Now, if somebody had a cough and no high fever and they'd be at a much lower risks risk, so high fever is a definitely a telltale indicator sign. Speaker 1: 02:13 You know? Why did they move these four people from quarantine at the base to the hospital? Was there any concern about the risk of spreading the illness and doing so? Speaker 3: 02:21 Right. Yeah. We're actually, I'm getting a lot of questions of that on social media. You're seeing a lot of people on social media saying, Hey, we know we thought we had them quarantine to Miramar. Why are we all of a sudden moving them out into the greater San Diego community now the CDC, this was the plan. Like I mentioned before that if anybody came down with any symptoms, they were going to take them to local hospitals. Basically we're talking about quarantine at Miramar versus isolation at a local hospital. Now you can think of isolation as beefed up security measures because in quarantine you're basically, they're putting like a OnBase hotel at Miramar and there's a perimeter made and they tell them, don't come out of this hotel. Now isolation is completely separate. That's a whole different thing. Um, where they're in special rooms that were, as we heard today at this news conference designed to house people who had Ebola, which is a much, much more contagious disease. And these isolation rooms have filtered air. They're special people that go in there to talk to them and they say that there's no risk to staff. There's no risk to any patients here. There's no risk to the general public. They want to let people know that both UC San Diego medical center and Hillcrest and Rady children's hospital, you can still go to them. There's no risk to the general public because there they are in isolation, which is a much higher security than just quarantine. Speaker 1: 03:27 And as I mentioned, the rest of those on the flight will be quarantined at MCA as Miramar for 14 days, uh, to be monitored for symptoms. What do we know about the 170 people evacuated? Speaker 3: 03:38 Well, we were told that most of them were doing, well, obviously four of them were taken over here. Now we were told that most of those people are American citizens. However, we know that some of those are like relatives of American citizens, whether it's you know, a spouse that hasn't gotten their visa yet. So American citizens and some Chinese nationals were on board that plane. Other than that, we don't know a whole lot about this. Obviously we're not being allowed on base to talk to them, interview them while they're under quarantine. So not a whole lot of information, but they are free to use their phones, the internet, they can Skype. So we're trying to get in touch with some of those people who are staying at Miramar to basically ask them how this is going. We know that um, health officials are trying to make things feel like home for people that are staying there. They're bringing in games for the kids, just trying to make things a little bit more comfortable while they're here for another at least 13 days. Speaker 1: 04:23 So is is MCIs Miramar expecting to have more flights arrive with evacuees from China. Speaker 3: 04:28 We were told by the CDC yesterday that the plan right now is to have more people come to MCA as Miramar. There's two locations on base including an OnBase hotel where they are going to be staying. Now the CDC says that those plans are constantly changing and we were told by Miramar officials that they could hold up to 350 people. So they still have room for nearly 200 more people. Um, but it's just going to depend on if flights are able to get out of [inaudible], if there's a need for flights, uh, for us citizens to come, uh, to the United States. Um, so really it's just gonna be depending, but once we learn more information, we'll be sure to update people on if there are more flights coming in one. Speaker 1: 05:03 And there was some concern by people who live on the base actually live on the base about the virus spreading. What did official say about that? Speaker 3: 05:09 Yeah. A couple of days ago they held a forum before this flight arrived at MCs Miramar. The CDC did with families on the base. And quite frankly, they said, yeah, there were a lot of people were concerned. I mean, we had families wondering if they could take their kids to school on the base. Um, and, and basically what the doctor from the CDC did was he just tried to assure them that, how it spreads, what the quarantine means, how they're going to be isolated. They're not going to be anywhere near them three to six feet to get the virus. You have to come in contact really close with someone who has it over multiple times. So having them far away, um, isn't going to be a threat to anybody on base. And that's what the CDC was trying to tell the families there to try to calm their fears, get them a little relaxed. Speaker 1: 05:48 You know, what, put this all into perspective for us, Matt, if you could, what, what, what is the real risk and catching the Corona virus? Speaker 3: 05:56 Well, we were just told this news conference today by these two doctors that, you know, so far this flu season, over 7,000 people have died from the flu. Um, and they said there's a 2% death rate from the coronavirus, which is much lower than the flu. I mean, a lot more people are dying from the flu here in the United States. Obviously we haven't had any death of the coronavirus yet. We know at least 12 people, um, have had confirmed cases inside the United States, but no deaths. So when we talk about this, we hear some people saying the deadly Corona virus. Um, we really have to be careful with that because right now the flu simply is just more deadlier. I've been speaking with KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman. Matt, thank you very much. Thanks, Jade.

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Two adults were taken to UC San Diego Health, and one adult and a child went to Rady Children's Hospital, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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