Key takeaways from 2 coronavirus studies

Two reports published by JAMA Network provide some of the most comprehensive information regarding the new coronavirus to date. 

Six key takeaways:

1. Researchers in one study analyzed 138 patients admitted to Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University from Jan. 1 to Jan. 28. The patients' median age was 56 years old and about 10 percent initially had diarrhea and nausea symptoms instead of cough and fever symptoms.

2. Of the 138 patients sickened, 41 percent are thought to have caught the virus in the hospital, including 17 patients and 40 healthcare workers. One patient — initially placed in a surgical ward for abdominal symptoms — infected at least 10 healthcare workers and four other patients.  

3. Patients experienced a median time of five days between their first symptoms and experiencing shortness of breath; seven days between symptom onset and hospitalization; and eight days between symptoms and severe breathing trouble. Experts say patients should be carefully monitored because someone who appears to be doing well early on is not guaranteed recovery.  

4. About 26 percent of the Wuhan patients needed intensive care; their median age was 66, compared to 51 for those who didn't require intensive care.

5. The virus affects the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys and the systems that control blood clotting, William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease expert at Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanderbilt University, told The New York Times, though it is unclear if the virus itself infects organs other than the lungs.

6. A second report studied 13 patients in three Beijing hospitals from Jan. 16 to Jan. 29. Patients had a median age of 34 and no underlying diseases. Those studied did not become as ill as the Wuhan patients, and no fatalities were reported.   

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