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Us health officials confirm first us case of china coronavirus

Us health officials confirm first us case of china coronavirus
Travelers pass through a health screening checkpoint at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan in southern China’s Hubei province, Tuesday, January 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Emily Wang)

A US resident who recently traveled to China has been diagnosed with the newly identified coronavirus that has sickened more than 300 people and killed at least six in China, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday.

CDC officials said it is preparing for more US cases of the coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and raised its travel alert for Wuhan to a level 2, calling for enhanced precautions. Under that alert level, the CDC recommends travelers to Wuhan should avoid contact with sick people, animals or animal markets.

“We do expect additional cases in the United States and globally,” Dr Nancy Messonnier, a CDC respiratory diseases expert said on a conference call with reporters.

CDC officials said they have begun tracking down individuals who came in contact with the patient to check them for symptoms.

Last week, the CDC began screening travelers from China at US airports in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. On Tuesday, the agency said it will expand screening for the virus to the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta and O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

Besides the United States, cases outside of China have been reported in South Korea, Thailand and Japan.

On the call, CDC officials said they have screened more than 1,200 passengers since those efforts began on January 17. None of those individuals have been sent on for additional testing.

The US traveler from Washington state had returned on January 15, arriving at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which is not on the US list for enhanced screening.

The patient sought care at a medical facility in Everett, Washington, and was treated for the illness. Based on his travel history and symptoms, healthcare professionals suspected the new coronavirus.

Specimens were taken from the patient and sent to the CDC for testing. The CDC said it has developed a new test that allowed it to identify the presence of the virus in a traveler. (Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Bill Berkrot)