A virus has killed at least 57 people in Russia’s Chelyabinsk region since mid-June, the U.N. health agency announced today. Chelyabinsk is the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak, and it’s not clear whether the virus entered Russia that way, or whether it was smuggled in on a flight or smuggled in from somewhere else. So far, though, the Chelyabinsk region is the hardest hit. Experts say it’s not clear whether this is a seasonal flu or an emerging, deadly virus, but they’re clearly fearful.
Killing 57 people, this new coronavirus only made headlines because a Saudi man, Nasser al-Awlaki, published a letter about it in a London medical journal. Turns out, though, that scientists in the U.K. and Canada learned about him in 2010, when he started getting better after a brief illness with a cough and fever. This caused him to retire. But it turns out, his brother, another health visitor and his wife’s sister all got it, too. At first, doctors believed the illness was due to allergic reactions to insect repellent. Now, though, they’re starting to suspect that the disease is evolving, and officials in Mexico, where the virus first emerged in 2012, say they’re checking the collection of the coronavirus around Mexico City and likely elsewhere for patients exhibiting similar symptoms.
On Thursday, health officials told Reuters, that the first number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has passed the 100 mark, reports CNN. Based on a toll, the majority of these had been hospitalizations, which is “unprecedented,” the CDC warned.
The agency has added to its list of guidelines for doctors and urged that anyone over 50, who has not been to the Middle East or the Arabian Peninsula since 2007, see a doctor. The first person who tested positive for the virus in the U.S. after the London case was an American doctor who treated patients who had recently been to Saudi Arabia, U.K. officials told reporters this week.
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, doctors have ordered blood tests for children who were infected with norovirus earlier this year. The virus is typically associated with the spring and summer, but has caught on this year, before it dies down. With the arrival of summer comes the terrible stress of travel, coupled with the stress of what kids go through on a daily basis, says Tim Lucas, pediatrician-in-chief at Newark Beth Israel Hospital. As he tells CNN, these children, who aren’t allowed to be sick enough to be evaluated, are likely to get dehydrated, even more acutely than anyone else in an emergency room. He says that parents should look out for those kids, and that doctors should start acting more aggressively with those kids, recognizing the case and managing to get them treated and into the home faster.
*This post was updated with new information from World Health Organization.