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Error leads to coronavirus patient leaving hospital early

Published Feb 11th, 2020 6:02PM EST
coronavirus united states
Image: Kin Cheung/AP/Shutterstock

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With the coronavirus scare still sweeping the globe, we’re putting a lot of faith in our health care systems and medical establishments to keep a lid on what seems to be a contagious and dangerous new virus. Unfortunately, sometimes things slip through the cracks, and one such incident recently happened in San Diego, California, where a US evacuee from China who was infected with the virus was allowed to leave and go about their day.

As CNN reports, the individual was part of a group that was evacuated from China by chartered jets that brought them to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar for evaluation. The individual was hospitalized with several others and then released after a two-week quarantine period. Unfortunately, one of those patients did indeed have the virus.

It’s a dramatic misstep, but local health officials say that it was the result of tests that initially showed the patient was free of the virus.

A statement released by UC San Diego Health offers a brief explanation:

This morning, CDC officials advised San Diego Public Health that further testing revealed that one of the four patients tested positive for (novel coronavirus). The confirmed positive patient was returned to UC San Diego Health for observation and isolation until cleared by the CDC for release.

So, the individual is now back in quarantine thanks to the additional testing conducted by the CDC, but that leaves a few additional questions to be answered. Based on these initial reports, we don’t know how long the person was free to live their lives, who they may have come into contact with, or where they may have traveled locally before being brought back to the hospital for additional quarantine and observation.

In any case, this serves as a timely reminder of just how easily a deadly virus can slip through the cracks, even when the entire world is on high alert for it. Let’s hope this remains an isolated incident.