First Case Of Person-To-Person Coronavirus Transmission Confirmed In The US
The health officials explained during a press briefing that the new patient is the spouse of the Chicago woman who brought the infection back with her from Wuhan in China, which is the confirmed epicentre of the outbreak.
The female patient - who returned from Wuhan on 13 January and went to hospital after experiencing symptoms of the viral illness - remains in isolation at a local hospital but is doing well.
Health officials said the new male patient - who is in his 60s - is currently in good condition despite 'some underlying medical conditions'.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said: "This is a very serious public health situation.
"Moving forward, we can expect to see more cases, and more cases means more potential for person-to-person spread."
The news makes the United States the fifth country - at least - where the infection is now spreading through human-to-human contact.
As it remains unclear whether or not the virus is infectious before symptoms, Messonnier said officials are working with hospitals to ensure healthcare providers are 'protected'.
She said: "Despite the case that we are reporting the first instance of person-to-person transmission in the United States, it is important to note that these two individuals were in close contact."
Health officials are also monitoring 21 patients in Illinois for possible infections, CNBC reports.
Meanwhile, Chinese health officials have said that, as of 29 January, the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak stands at 170, with 7,711 confirmed cases in the country.
The International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on the new #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) meet again today to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, and what recommendations should be made to manage it pic.twitter.com/9aIRahO4R9
- World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 30, 2020
The International Health Regulations Emergency Committee reconvened today to ascertain 'whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern', as well as the recommendations on how to manage it.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organisation's Director-General, has said: "Although the numbers outside China are still relatively small, they hold the potential for a much larger outbreak."
He also added that human-to-human contact was a concern.
Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Program, has also said: "These developments in terms of the evolution of the outbreak and further development of transmission, these are of grave concern and has spurred countries into action.
"What we know at this stage, this is still obviously a very active outbreak and information is being updated and changing by the hour."
Featured Image Credit: PA