The first person-to-person case of the deadly coronavirus has been confirmed in Illinois, bringing the total number of cases in the U.S. to six, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Thursday.
The federal public health agency said the patient resides with a Chicago woman, who was previously diagnosed with the illness following a visit Wuhan, China, ground zero for the ongoing outbreak. To date, two cases have been confirmed in California and Illinois, one in Washington State, and another in Arizona.
“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,” CDC Director Robert Redfield told reporters during a conference call.
“We anticipated this,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University. “The kind of contact that you have in a household is very close and very prolonged. That’s the kind of circumstance where we would anticipate a virus such as this could be transmitted.”
The development comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) is set to hold its second emergency committee on the sickness.
The death toll in China from the new coronavirus climbed to 170 Thursday after 38 people died from the day before as foreign governments attempt to airlift their citizens from the stricken country.
The United States and Japan have evacuated hundreds of nationals from Wuhan while Britain, New Zealand and Australia are working to repatriate their citizens from the city of 11 million that has been under lockdown for nearly a week.
About 200 Britons were about to depart from Wuhan before the plan was delayed on Thursday as they were not given Chinese approval to leave. They were to be taken to a National Health Services facility in Oxfordshire.
The UPI contributed to this report.
Editor’s Note: The photo chosen for this story was taken January 22, 2020 at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). It is illlustrative of the topic and not a literal depiction of any individuals in this particular medical case.