First human-to-human coronavirus infection confirmed in US

30 January 2020, 18:00

Passengers from United flight UA850 direct from Beijing arrive at Terminal 5 at O'Hare International Airport
Passengers from United flight UA850 direct from Beijing arrive at Terminal 5 at O'Hare International Airport. Picture: PA
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Officials have confirmed the first case of human-to-human transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed the case on Thursday afternoon.

CDC Director, Dr. Robert Redfielder, said the health agency had expected to identify "some" person-to-person spread in the US, but risk to the American public "remains low".

“Given what we’ve seen in China and other countries with the novel coronavirus, CDC experts have expected some person-to-person spread in the US,” he said.  

“We understand that this may be concerning, but based on what we know now, we still believe the immediate risk to the American public is low.”

The case involves a Chicago resident, making it the sixth case of coronavirus in the country and the second in Illinois.

A CDC spokesperson said: "The CDC is working closely with Illinois health officials and other local partners.

"A CDC team has been on the ground since the first 2019-nCoV-positive case was identified and is supporting an ongoing investigation to determine whether further spread with this virus has occurred."

The CDC confirmed the case
The CDC confirmed the case. Picture: Centers for Disease Control

Airports in the US continue to scan arrivals for signs of the virus.

The agency have said the general public do not need to wear masks, but should report any flu-like symptoms if they have recently traveled to China.

The World Health Organisation is expected to announce whether they are calling a global health emergency at around 6.30pm (UK time).

The death toll in China from the latest outbreak has risen to 170 and there has been nearly 8,000 cases reported within the country, according to Beijing authorities.

Sporting events across China have been cancelled with many cities on lockdown. The country has delayed the start of its domestic football season because of the escalation of the virus.

Meanwhile, an evacuation flight to bring 200 British nationals back to the UK from the Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak, which will leave on Thursday night.

Reports suggest they will be taken to a secure facility in the Wirral.

The flight is due to leave Wuhan city at 7am local time on Friday, which is 11pm on Thursday UK time.