More coronavirus cases likely in San Diego, local hospital says

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SAN DIEGO -- A "miscommunication" was the reason one patient currently at UC San Diego Health with novel coronavirus was accidentally sent back to quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, and not mislabeling, a UCSD Health doctor said Thursday.

Dr. Randy Taplitz, the hospital's clinical director of infection prevention, said the labels on the samples were performed according to hospital protocol, but a miscommunication must have caused some issue between UCSD Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading to the patient's inadvertent release back to the base.

"We're very confident it will not happen again," she said. "That has all been resolved and this will not happen moving forward."

Even so, Taplitz said the hospital was anticipating more cases of the illness coming into the UCSD Health system. The miscommunication incident led to several patients under quarantine demanding better oversight of their situation with a petition.

A second person who was under quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar after being evacuated from Wuhan, China, was confirmed this week to have coronavirus.

According to UC San Diego Health officials, both confirmed patients are in isolation at the hospital, with a third patient under observation because of coronavirus-like symptoms.

All three patients are "doing well," according to hospital officials.

The newly confirmed patient was one of 65 people aboard a State Department-chartered flight from China that arrived at Miramar on Friday, according to the CDC.

UCSD Health officials stressed that the medical center is fully equipped to handle the illness, which has now been dubbed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization.

"The safety and well-being of our patients and staff is our top priority. As the region's only academic health system, UC San Diego Health specializes in the care of patients with complex illnesses, including infectious diseases more virulent and deadlier than COVID-19," according to the hospital. "We are taking all necessary measures and precautions to minimize any potential exposures as we care for both potential and confirmed COVID-19 cases.

"Patients are treated in negative-pressure isolation rooms; healthcare providers in contact with these patients are trained to use appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gowns, gloves, fit-tested high-filtration respirators and face shields or goggles."

Worldwide, there have been more than 60,000 reported cases of the disease, which has killed more than 1,300 people, mostly in China.

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