Ecuador health officials await results of coronavirus tests on Chinese traveler
Ecuador Ministry of Health officials said Monday they are not sure when they will receive test results for a Chinese traveler suspected of having the new coronavirus. “The samples were sent to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States but we are not certain when the examine will be performed,” said Alfredo Olmedo, director of Epidemiological Surveillance for the ministry. “We expect a report 72 hours after the exam is complete so results should be in our hands later this week.”
If coronavirus is confirmed, it would be the first case in South America. On Monday morning, Chilean officials said test results for a Chinese woman in a Santiago hospital proved negative for the virus.
The 49-year-old Chinese man being treated in Quito arrived in Ecuador January 21 showing no signs of illness. According to Olmedo, the man developed a cough and high fever two days later and was admitted to the hospital. “We conducted tests for other influenza viruses and these proved negative. We do not yet have the test for the new coronavirus so we shipped the samples to the CDC in Atlanta.”
For privacy reasons, Olmedo did not provide details of the man’s condition although a health ministry spokesman said Sunday night that he had a high fever and was suffering from renal and respiratory failure. The patient is being treated in a hospital isolation ward, Olmedo said, and does not pose a risk to other patients. He did not disclose the name of the hospital.
The Ministry of Foreign affairs issued a statement Monday confirming that the patient is a native of Fujian. He traveled by air to Spain and then to Ecuador, arriving at the Quito airport last Tuesday. “We have alerted the airline on which he traveled of the potential danger and asked them to notify passengers on the Fujian-to-Madrid flight as well as the Madrid-to-Quito flight.”
At the Monday press conference, Olmedo said that a total of 160 people who had contact with the Chinese man in Ecuador are being monitored. Chinese health officials say the virus can be transmitted before symptoms are evident.
As of Monday morning, the World Health Organization reported that 4,653 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed with 112 of those resulting in deaths. Unofficial sources say the number of those infected is probably much higher, possibly over 100,000.