San Francisco doctor testing to diagnose coronavirus while travelers express concern for global spread of outbreak

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tests people here in the United States for the Wuhan Coronovirus, a local doctor from the University of California San Francisco is taking a big role in the fight to battle the virus.

"My lab develops diagnostic tests, our interest is in developing sequencing-based tests by which we can not only diagnose coronaviruses but identify virtually any kind of virus," said Dr. Charles Chiu.

Doctor Chiu says they don't have a respiratory test yet which would be the kind of test they would need to diagnose this infection.

While most of the deaths and cases have been in China, there is at least one reported case in the United States; a man in his 30s who lives in Washington State.

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He is being treated in a bio-containment room, in part by a robot, until the CDC says he's safe for discharge.

The CDC says its received specimens for testing from several people in the US who have traveled to Wuhan, China or have had close contact with someone who may have the virus.

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In Wuhan, warnings have been posted that public transportation will stop running. The city is going on lock-down to contain the virus' spread during the peak travel period for the lunar new year.

ABC7 News met Cecilia Wang at San Francisco International Airport. She and her parents are visiting from China for the new year.
"I'm very worried about the virus," said Wang.

In addition to China and the U-S, cases have also been reported in South Korea, Thailand and Japan with suspected cases detected in Australia.

Chris Kang is visiting from Korea.

"We do hear some news about this coming from China it is a potential threat coming to Korea but this is still very small news so far," said Kang.

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The virus was first identified in Wuhan in mid-December. The strain has been linked to a market in the city that was selling seafood and live animals.

ABC7 News reached out to several local hospitals. A spokesperson says Santa Clara Valley Medical Center is monitoring the situation and has begun preparations, though the immediate risk to residents is low.
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