CDC: Coronavirus patient released in San Antonio later turned up positive
( MY SA )
An evacuee from Wuhan, China, who had been in isolation at a San Antonio health facility was released over the weekend but then turned up positive for the coronavirus after having had contact with the public, possibly exposing them, the San Antonio Express-News has learned.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday that the patient met the criteria for release, including two negative test results, and left the facility Saturday. That patient was later returned to isolation after a pending, subsequent lab test came up positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.
The patient was a woman and was in contact with about a dozen people at a hotel, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said.
“The discharged patient had some contact with others while out of isolation, and CDC and local public health partners are following up to trace possible exposures and notify them of their potential risk,” CDC said in a statement issued to the Express-News.
“It’s important to remember that this is a new virus and we are learning more about it every day,” the agency continued. “The cycle of infection with COVID-19 is not yet well understood, but the amount of virus is typically highest when the person is sickest. As the illness resolves, the amount of virus falls.”
The CDC statement did not say how many people may have been exposed or where contact with the coronavirus patient took place.
The patient had been in isolation while being treated in a San Antonio medical facility for several weeks after being flown from Wuhan, China, to the United States aboard a State Department-chartered plane.
“At the time of discharge from the facility, the patient was asymptomatic and met all of CDC’s criteria for release — resolution of any symptoms and two consecutive sets of negative test results, collected more than 24 hours apart,” CDC stated. “Following the patient’s release, results of a subsequent sample were received, and determined to be weakly positive. Out of an abundance of caution, CDC decided to bring the individual back into isolation at a local medical facility.”
Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Wolff, along with local health professionals, had expressed grave concerns over, among other things, the federal protocol of transporting evacuees from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland to area hospitals and increasing the risk of exposing the public to the virus.
“The fact that the CDC allowed the public to be exposed to a patient with a positive COVID-19 reading is unacceptable,” Nirenberg said Sunday night. “We will hold the CDC accountable to providing complete transparency for the public. This situation is exactly why we have been asking for federal officials to accept the guidance of our medical community.”
The mayor added that he is not critical of the local congressional delegation.
Wolff said local officials’ concerns have not been addressed. “Time and time again, I have raised issues concerning evacuees, inappropriate accommodations, the risk of exposure during transporting and the need for additional monitoring and extended quarantine periods,” he said Sunday night.
On Feb. 7, 91 evacuees from Wuhan were brought to Lackland for quarantine. One became ill and was moved to a medical facility; the others completed their 14-day quarantine and were released Feb. 20.