The first confirmed instance of person-to-person transmission of the new coronavirus — 2019-nCoV — to occur in the United States has been confirmed in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today. The sixth person to be diagnosed with the virus here is the husband of the second confirmed patient, a Chicago woman in her 60s, who had returned on Jan. 13 from a visit to Wuhan, China, where the virus was first noticed in early December.
Person-to-person transmission is reported to have been taking place in China at least since that time, while until this week, all cases confirmed in other countries had been among people with direct travel to Wuhan. This week, confirmation of person-to-person transmission in Germany, Japan and Vietnam prompted World Health Organizaton Director General to reconvene the emergency committee that had earlier declined to declare the continued spread of the novel coronavirus a global health emergency. The committee’s announcement was expected at 1 p.m. ET, but has since been postponed until 2:30 ET.
CDC officials, with Chicago health officials continue to say that the risk of person-to-person spread of the pneumonia-like illness remains low, and emphasize that the new patient was in close, sustained, prolonged contact with his wife, whose illness was confirmed Jan.24. She remains hospitalized for isolation, while he is being treated and is, according to Illinois health authorities, in stable condition. Other contacts of both continue to be monitored.