Story at a glance

  • The first U.S. citizen infected with the Wuhan coronavirus is being treated at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett in Washington.
  • Doctors and nurses used a robot with a stethoscope and microphone to treat the patient without making contact.
  • Precautions like these have been in place since the Ebola outbreak in 2015.

The unidentified Washington man who is the first U.S. citizen diagnosed with the novel Wuhan virus is in a stable condition and was treated with a robot, according to KOMO News

The man, reportedly in his 30s and from Snohomish County, north of Seattle, is currently in medical isolation. Health investigators have found that the coronavirus can be transmitted from human to human and have so far identified 16 people the patient came into contact with since returning to Seattle from China. 

Speaking to The Guardian, supervising doctor George Diaz, the section chief of infectious diseases at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, said that the patient is in “satisfactory condition.” Diaz described how he operated a robot to diagnose and treat the patient.

He operated the robot while outside of a window of the patient’s quarantined room. The robot was equipped with a camera, microphone and stethoscope as a new method to reduce physical contact and risk of exposure to the coronavirus. 

KOMO News also writes that the patient is currently residing in a 20-foot-by-20 foot room, accompanied by four security guards and four nurses. 

Diaz further stated that the patient will remain in these isolated conditions until officials at the Center for Disease Control deem it safe to release him. 

This is the first patient to be admitted into the special pathogens unit at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, The Guardian states. The hospital created this isolated unit during the Ebola outbreak of 2015.

“Every few weeks [we’re] doing drills and training like you would for an earthquake or fire drill or something like that, and so you’re always trying to maintain a state of readiness,” he said. “The wheels were greased enough that it wasn’t hard to get the process rolling to activate all the procedures that we had put in place,” Diaz told reporters

The World Health Organization is meeting today to discuss whether or not the coronavirus from Wuhan will be deemed a public health emergency of international concern, according to its Twitter page. From there, recommendations will be made to the public as to how best to handle the virus.

Initially known as 2019-nCoV, the coronavirus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which is now under quarantine. It began in an animal market, and quickly spread to Chinese cities, eventually making its way to Japan, Thailand and the U.S. 

Special screenings are occurring at airports across the globe, from five cities in the U.S. — San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta and Chicago — to Dubai. 

Published on Jan 23, 2020