PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States has risen to 60. The numbers also continue to grow across Europe and now, for the first time, it’s in South America and Greece.
Villanova University announced Tuesday it’s calling back study abroad students from Italy, while many other universities are doing the same.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said the state will be ready. The virus is expected to spread in the United States. That’s based on what’s happening overseas.
Italy now has close to 400 cases of coronavirus, with 12 deaths. That’s prompted the State Department to issue a travel advisory, asking U.S. citizens to exercise increased caution when traveling there.
Pope Francis offered his prayers for the victims as many in the crowd in Saint Peter’s Square wore masks to protect themselves.
Dozens of international flights land everyday at Philadelphia International Airport, including some from Rome.
With the virus now in so many places, including Brazil, Greece and many European countries, health officials are concerned coronavirus — officially called COVID-19 — could be spread by travelers, some of whom might not have symptoms.
“No one in Pennsylvania has tested positive for COVID-19,” Levine said.
Levine says the state is ramping up its plans in case the virus arrives, but she wouldn’t say how many potential patients the state in monitoring.
“To date, the Wolf administration has activated the Department of Health’s Emergency Health Operation Center to allow for an enhanced and coordinated response,” Levine said.
Nationally, dramatic warnings from federal health officials on Tuesday about an imminent spread of the virus are now being slightly walked back.
“We can’t say for sure if we will get community transmission but based on what we’re seeing in Europe and the Middle East, we think it’s more likely than we thought a week or two ago,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat.
Federal health officials stress the outbreak is currently contained in the United States.
All of the confirmed cases in the United States are linked to international travel, with the patients all under quarantine.
There are no specifics on their conditions, but the symptoms have been described as mild.