CDC records coronavirus case that spread within US

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday confirmed the first case of the novel coronavirus spreading from one person to another within the United States.

All of the U.S. cases recorded so far had been from travelers returning to the U.S. from China, where the virus originated. But the CDC said a patient in Chicago contracted the coronavirus from his spouse, who had recently traveled to China. 

"We understand this may be concerning, but based on what we know now our assessment remains that the immediate risk to the American public is low," said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The patient who traveled to China is a woman in her 60s who is doing well but is hospitalized to keep the virus from spreading, Illinois health officials said. Her husband is about the same age, health officials said, and is in stable condition at a hospital. 

Health officials are currently investigating to identify other people who may have come into contact with the couple, but Redfield stressed the virus is not "spreading widely" across the community.

"It's important to note this spread was among two people in close contact for an extended period of time," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. 

China’s National Health Commission on Thursday reported 7,711 confirmed cases and 170 deaths from the illness, up from 1,737 cases and 38 deaths within the past 24 hours.

China is the only nation that has reported deaths from the virus, which presents with cold- or flu-like symptoms, though cases have been confirmed in at least 21 countries.

The State Department earlier this week evacuated nearly 200 Americans from Wuhan, where the outbreak began, and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing has indicated that it is planning additional evacuation flights next week.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is reportedly reconvening experts on Thursday to decide whether the novel coronavirus should be declared a global emergency, after declining to do so last week.

--Updated at 1:13 pm.