TUESDAY, Jan. 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) — The first U.S. case of a new coronavirus illness that originated in central China has been identified in a patient in Washington State, federal health officials announced on Tuesday.
In a news briefing, officials said that the male patient was hospitalized with pneumonia last week and had recently traveled to Wuhan, a city of 11 million people in China where the outbreak is thought to have begun.
The man is being quarantined at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, “out of an abundance of precaution and for short-term monitoring, not because there is severe illness,” stressed Dr. Chris Spitters, interim health officer for the Snohomish Health District.
“We believe the risk to the public is low,” added Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman.
The quarantined patient is in his 30s and resides in Snohomish County, north of Seattle, state epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist explained at the briefing. The patient is currently in good condition and clinically not ill, officials said.
The man flew home into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Jan. 15 via an indirect flight, officials said. Airport screening for the new virus did not start until Jan. 17.
According to officials, the man had been keeping up with the news, and when he developed symptoms on Jan. 19, he reached out to his doctor. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that he had the coronavirus by the next day.
The news comes a day after the leader of a Chinese government team of experts announced Monday that human-to-human transmission of the new coronavirus had been confirmed in that country.
Also on Tuesday, Chinese health officials confirmed that more than 300 cases of infection have now been identified, including six deaths, CNN reported.
The outbreak is thought to have originated in a Wuhan poultry and seafood market. Besides Wuhan, cases have now been identified in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, as well as Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and South Korea.
On Friday, U.S. officials announced the start of routine illness checks for people flying into the United States from Central China via Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco. And in the Tuesday news briefing it was announced that two more airports — Atlanta and Chicago — will be added to that list.