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CDC cites label error in mixup involving San Diego COVID-19 patient

The woman who tested positive for COVID-19 and 3-year-old Annabel are the two patients from Miramar taken to the hospital for evaluation for the illness.

SAN DIEGO — A 3-year-old girl who arrived at MCAS Miramar last week as part of a group of evacuees from Wuhan, China has been taken back to Rady Children's Hospital for further screening after experiencing a slight cough. 

Annabel Wucinski and her father Frank were first released last Friday from the hospital after testing negative for the deadly COVID-19. 

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News of Annabel's hospitalization comes a day after a woman was confirmed to have COVID-19 and was inadvertently released from isolation at UC San Diego Health and briefly returned to quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar before being diagnosed with the deadly illness.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UCSD, the woman was released from the hospital Sunday afternoon, but when tests ultimately concluded she had contracted the virus, she was returned to the hospital Monday morning, and she remains in isolation.

The patient was among 167 people who were flown to Miramar from the area of Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, last Wednesday. She and three other people from the flight were subsequently hospitalized after showing possible symptoms of the disease that has killed more than 1,000 people, mostly in China.

According to UCSD Health, CDC officials informed local authorities on Sunday that the four patients "had tested negative for the virus. This information was shared with UC San Diego Health and at the CDC's discretion, the four patients were discharged and returned to federal quarantine at MCAS Miramar."

But on Monday morning, "CDC officials advised San Diego Public Health that further testing revealed that one of the four patients tested positive" for the coronavirus, now dubbed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization.

"The confirmed positive patient was returned to UC San Diego Health for observation and isolation until cleared by the CDC for release," according to the hospital.

The woman who tested positive for COVID-19 and 3-year-old Annabel are the two patients from Miramar who were taken to the hospital for evaluation for the illness.

"Both patients are doing well and have minimal symptoms," UCSD Health officials said late Monday. "... UC San Diego Health has some of the nation's leading experts on infectious diseases. We are fully prepared to care for adult patients with coronavirus. We want to assure you that patient safety is our top priority."

At a news conference Tuesday, CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat said there was a "mix-up" involving the test results. She said the agency is working to determine how many people the woman may have come into contact with after she was returned to Miramar.

"The preliminary information I had is that there was very limited contact," Schuchat said. "But I think that's being reassessed at this point."

The San Diego patient is the 13th in the United States and the seventh in California. Los Angeles and Orange counties each have one confirmed patient.

All of the Wuhan-area evacuees who were brought to Miramar last week -- 167 on Wednesday's flight and another 65 on a separate Friday flight -- will be under a mandatory two-week quarantine.

More than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported, all but two of them in China. More than 43,000 cases of the illness have been reported worldwide, the vast majority of them in China.

Nearly 200 Americans arrived at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside on Jan. 29 and were quarantined there after being evacuated from Wuhan. That quarantine period ended Tuesday morning, with none of them showing any signs of the disease.

WATCH the CDC press conference:

Statement from UC San Diego Health:

UC San Diego Health continues to care for two patients transferred from MCAS Miramar under federal quarantine for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. One patient has tested positive for COVID-19; the other is being evaluated for the infection. Both patients are doing well, with minimal symptoms.
 
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. 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 isolated rooms, and health care providers in contact with these patients are trained to use appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gowns, gloves, fit-tested high-filtration masks and face shields or goggles.
 
We understand others may be concerned about larger health risks. We want to reassure our patients, their loved ones and the community-at-large that there is no exposure risk at any UC San Diego Health hospitals or clinics. Patients and visitors can feel confident in making and keeping their appointments and using our services as usual.
 
The latest COVID-19 information for our patients and visitors is located at: 
go.ucsd.edu/39iyENO