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CDC confirms first US case of Wuhan coronavirus in Washington state

Dr. Scott Lindquist, Washington state epidemiologist for communicable disease, speaks during a press conference about the first confirmed U.S. case of a virus known as the 2019 novel coronavirus at the state Public Health Laboratories on January 21, 2020 in Shoreline, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first United States case of a mysterious coronavirus from China in Washington state.

What to know about the Wuhan coronavirus

According to the CDC, the man affected is a Snohomish County resident in his 30s, who was traveling through Sea-Tac Airport after a trip to China near the Wuhan region. He was hospitalized with pneumonia last week; the coronavirus infection was subsequently confirmed Monday afternoon. Authorities say he has been fully cooperative with quarantine procedures since his arrival.

He is currently being treated at Providence Medical Center in Everett.

John Wiesman, Washington State Secretary of Health, said he’s thankful this patient was so vigilante about reporting his symptoms and he’s pleased with the response from the state and local health departments.

“We’re very happy to say he’s in satisfactory condition,” said Gov. Jay Inslee during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Jay Cook, Chief of Surgery at Providence, said the human-to-human transmission rate is low, but the patient is being monitored in an isolated unit for at least another 48 hours. After that, he may be discharged from the hospital and sent home.

“The risk is low to the residents of the state of Washington,” Inlsee said. “This is not a time for panic … We should all do what we always do; we wash our hands, we cover our mouths when we sneeze, and when we’re ill, we stay at home.”

Inslee also tried to reassure Washington residents nervous about the virus.

“There’s nowhere in Snohomish County that I would be reluctant to take my new granddaughter,” Inslee said.  “We want people to continue to enjoy Snohomish County.”

Health officials are following up with other travelers and people whom the patient may have had contact with during his trip to his original home in China, including the clinic and staff where he first arrived to report his symptoms. The patient arrived at Sea-Tac Airport and took a rideshare home before recognizing the symptoms.

Inslee said all travelers from China to Seattle will be rerouted to five other airports equipped to screen for coronavirus. Travelers to the U.S. from Wuhan will be rerouted to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, and JFK in New York for additional screening. Other airports are posting messaging about the coronavirus.

The illness has killed at least six people, while affecting over 300 others in China. Confirmed cases have also been seen in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.

The World Health Organization is convening a panel of experts Wednesday in Geneva to deliberate over whether to formally label the virus a global health emergency. The WHO did just that in 2019 after an Ebola outbreak in the eastern Congo killed over 2,000 people. Similar emergencies were declared for the Zika virus in 2016, and the H1N1 swine flu in 2009.

Chinese health officials theorize that patients affected by the coronavirus may have contracted it at seafood markets.

KIRO 7 staff contributed to this report.

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