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Deadly Chinese virus now in the US; major airports take action

Entrance to the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Daniel Mayer, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
January 21, 2020

The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) on Tuesday confirmed the first documented case of the Chinese coronavirus to arrive to the U.S.

The first confirmed U.S. person to contract the Wuhan coronavirus reportedly contracted the illness while traveling in China, before they returned to Snohomish County, Wash. CDC officials who spoke to CNBC, identified the victim as a male in his 30s.

Those CDC officials said the man has been isolated at a medical center in Washington as an early precaution. The man in question was said to be in a “very healthy,” condition despite contracting the virus. The man in question reportedly reached out to local health officials around Jan. 15 when he first started experiencing symptoms akin to pneumonia.

Thus far, the coronavirus outbreak in China has reportedly killed six people and Chinese officials have confirmed more than 300 additional cases of the illness.

“We’re being proactive at all levels,” Nancy Messonnier, the CDC’s director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told CNBC. “CDC will be working closely with the state health department on the particulars of this patient’s care.”

At this time the CDC reportedly believes the risk level to the U.S. public is “low,” though the disease control agency has reportedly begun screenings for travelers arriving at major airports in California and New York from China’s Wuhan province.

CDC officials said they would also begin screenings at airports in Chicago and Atlanta and have already screened more than 1,200 people who have arrived at various airports.

According to the CDC, cases of the coronavirus have already spread from China to Thailand, Japan, and South Korea.

“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats,” the CDC said. “Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people such as has been seen with MERS and SARS. Past MERS and SARS outbreaks have been complex, requiring comprehensive public health responses.”

The CDC identified the coronavirus as having many symptoms similar to the common cold, such as runny nose, headaches, cough, sore throat, fever and a general feeling of being unwell. In its list of symptoms, the CDC said most people contract forms of the coronavirus throughout their lives and the illness passes. More serious cases can, however, lead to lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is reportedly expected to meet in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday to determine whether the latest coronavirus outbreak warrants consideration as a global health emergency.

The WHO last declared such a global health emergency in 2019, in response to an Ebola outbreak in the eastern Congo, which killed 2,000 people. The WHO declared previous global health emergencies for the 2016 Zika virus outbreak, the 2014 Ebola outbreak and the 2009 H1N1 swine flu.