Seattle: The US on Tuesday reported its first case of a new and potentially deadly virus circulating in China, saying a Washington state resident who returned last week from the outbreak's epicenter was hospitalized near Seattle.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee, centre, speaking after a man in Washington state is identified as the first known person in the United States to catch a new type of coronavirus that officials believe originated in China. Credit:AP
The man, identified as a Snohomish County resident is in his 30s, was in good condition and wasn't considered a threat to medical staff or the public, health officials said.
US officials stressed that they believe the virus' overall risk to the American public remained low.
"This is not a moment of high anxiety," Governor Jay Inslee said.
The newly discovered virus has infected about 300 people, all of whom had been in China, and killed six. The virus can cause coughing, fever, breathing difficulty and pneumonia. The US joins a growing list of places outside mainland China reporting cases, following Australia, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
Airports around the world have stepped up monitoring, checking passengers from China for signs of illness in hopes of containing the virus during the busy Lunar New Year travel season.
Late last week, US health officials began screening passengers from Wuhan in central China, where the outbreak began. The screening had been underway at three US airports – New York City's Kennedy airport and the Los Angeles and San Francisco airports.
On Tuesday, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention announced it would add Chicago's O'Hare airport and Atlanta's airport to the mix later this week.
What's more, officials also will begin forcing all passengers from Wuhan to go to one of those five airports if they wish to enter the US.
Travelers wear face masks as they walk outside of the Beijing Railway Station in Beijing.Credit:AP
The hospitalised US resident had no symptoms when he arrived at the Seattle-Tacoma airport last Wednesday, but he started feeling ill on Thursday and went to a doctor on Sunday with a fever and a cough, officials said. Lab testing on Monday confirmed he had the virus.
"The gentleman right now is very healthy," Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the CDC said Tuesday.
The hospital, Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, said in a statement that it expected the man would remain in isolation and under monitoring there at least until Thursday.
CDC officials said they sent a team to Washington to try to track down people who might have come in contact with the man. The hospital also said it was contacting "the small number of staff and patients" who may have been with the man at a clinic.
The man is originally from central China, lives alone in the US and made the trip solo, officials said. There were relatively few people who came in contact with him since he got back, health officials said.
Stobbe reported from New York.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
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