The first person-to-person case of coronavirus has been confirmed in the US after a man in Chicago was infected from his wife, who traveled to China.
The man’s wife, who is in her 60s, became the second American after she returned from a trip to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.
Her husband has now tested positive for the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed on Thursday.
It is the first case of person-to-person spread of the virus in the US and not from someone who had traveled to China and picked up the virus there.
This comes on the heels of news that the World Health Organization has finally declared the coronavirus outbreak to be an international public health emergency.
The first person-to-person case of coronavirus has been confirmed in a Chicago man who was infected by his wife, who traveled to China
It’s the first time an American has caught the case without having traveled to China. Pictured: Passengers arrive at O’Hare International Airport as they in Chicago, January 24
The wife, 60, had traveled to Wuhan – where the virus originated – in late December to take care of her elderly father. Pictured: Medical staff in protective suits treat a coronavirus patient at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan, January 28
‘Given what we’ve seen in China and other countries with the novel coronavirus, CDC experts have expected some person-to-person spread in the US,’ Dr Robert Redfield, director of the CDC told reporters in a media call on Thursday.
‘We understand that this may be concerning, but based on what we know now, we still believe the immediate risk to the American public is low.’
The couple, who have not been identified, are now both being isolated at St Alexius Hospital in Hoffman Estates, a suburb of Chicago.
According to officials from the Illinois Department of Health, the wife is ‘doing well’ and the husband is ‘stable’.
The wife traveled to Wuhan – where the virus originated – in late December to take care of her elderly father.
She arrived at O’Hare International Airport on January 13, but did not begin experiencing symptoms until several days later.
CDC officials say they do not believe she infected her husband until she was symptomatic.
The husband had some pre-existing medical conditions, similar to many infected patients, but health officials would not elaborate on what those conditions were.
Health officials say that the man was not attending mass gatherings and they are monitoring close contacts.
‘This person-to-person spread was between two very close contacts, a wife and husband,’ said Ngozi Ezike, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health in the media call on Thursday.
‘It is not spreading in the wider community.’
She returned to Chicago on January 13, but did not show symptoms until several days later. Pictured: Medical staff in protective suits treat a coronavirus patient at Zhongnan Hospital in Wuhan, January 27
The couple, who have not been identified, are now both being isolated at St Alexius Hospital in Hoffman Estates, a suburb of Chicago. Pictured: Partial northwest view of Chicago skyline, July 2019
Previously, all confirmed US cases had been in patients who travel to Wuhan, where an outbreak has been ongoing since December 2019.
However, there have been cases of human-to-human transmission reported outside of China, including in Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The four other cases have been confirmed in Maricopa County, Arizona; Orange County and Los Angeles County California; and Snohomish County, Washington.
Currently, 168 cases are under investigation in at least 26 states – 21 of those alone in Illinois.
The CDC say it is likely that more cases of the virus, known as 2019-nCoV, will be reported in the next several days and weeks.
Signs and symptoms of the illness include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, with 20 percent of cases becoming severe.
Health officials say the best steps Americans can take to stay safe is to practice basic hygiene including washing hands with warm water and soap and coughing or sneezing into an elbow.
Meanwhile in China, the coronavirus death toll has risen to 170 as of Thursday afternoon and several countries – including the US and UK – have advised against non-essential travel to the nation.
More than 8,000 people have been sickened by the deadly strain in at least 18 countries and territories amid an international effort to stop the spread.
US EVACUATES 195 AMERICANS FROM WUHAN AND PLANS SECOND RESCUE FLIGHT
On Wednesday, an evacuation flight with 195 Americans onboard landed at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California.
They were greeted by in officials hazmat suits before being filed onto awaiting buses and taken to another building.
The plane, which also carried six members, departed Wuhan before dawn on Wedneday before stopping to refuel in Anchorage, Alaska.
Originally scheduled to fly to Ontario International Airport in Ontario, California, tje flight was diverted to the air base 25 miles away without explanation late on Tuesday night.
Currently, the passengers are under a voluntary 72-hour quarantine as officials check for signs and symptoms.
Prior to this, the passengers underwent four screenings: two before departure in Wuhan and another two during a refueling stop in Anchorage, Alaska.
There are more than 1,000 Americans still in Wuhan, bu the US State Department announced on Thursday it was planning a second evacuation flight.
On Wednesday, an evacuation flight with 195 Americans onboard landed at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California (pictured)
Officials in hazmat suits met passengers as they stepped off the plane and onto awaiting buses (left and right). Currently, the passengers are under a voluntary 72-hour quarantine