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First US person-to-person coronavirus transmission confirmed in Chicago

Medical workers at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan, China. (Xiong Qi/Xinhua via AP/TNS)
January 30, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed the first person-to-person case of the deadly Chinese coronavirus in the U.S.

The CDC announced that the individual affected by the first confirmed coronavirus case in the U.S. has now spread the virus to their spouse.

Both individuals reside in the Chicago area. Although the first individual, a woman, had traveled to China, their husband had not, but later acquired the virus from person-to-person contact.

The CDC maintained that the risk to the general public remains low, as that the virus is not widely spreading in the U.S. CDC noted that masks are not necessary to wear at this time.

The case marks the sixth confirmed case of coronavirus in the U.S.

Person-to-person transmission of the virus has already been occurring in China. As of Thursday morning, Chinese authorities confirmed 8,137 cases of coronavirus, which includes 171 deaths, as CNN reported.

The outbreak has prompted North Korea to shut down its trade with China, and Russia has closed its border with China.

The U.S. has evacuated U.S. diplomats and other citizens from China on one plane so far, and plans to fly additional U.S. evacuees out of the country soon.

“The Department of State will be staging additional evacuation flights with capacity for private U.S. citizens on a reimbursable basis, leaving Wuhan Tianhe International Airport on or about February 3, 2020,” said a U.S. Embassy in China statement.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that the agency is developing a coronavirus vaccine as a “worst-case scenario,” though the virus is not currently spreading in the U.S. or considered a major issue.

Fauci said that when China isolated the virus, they posted the virus’ genetic sequences online, which allowed the NIH to target the glycoprotein spike and develop the immunogen for a vaccine.

The NIH vaccine will be entering a phase one trial within the next three months. An additional three months will be required for data collection before advancement to a phase two trial.

The CDC is also quickly developing a coronavirus testing kit that will serve as the blueprint for labs to use nationwide.