Public health officials announced the first case of the newly identified Chinese coronavirus transmitted from person to person on US soil.
The patient is the husband of a Chicago woman in her sixties who had acquired the virus while traveling in Wuhan, China. That case had been announced by Illinois public health officials last week.
The husband is in medical isolation and is now the sixth US patient with the 2019-nCoV virus, one of more than 7,800 cases worldwide and 98 cases outside of China. The virus has killed 170 people, all in China.
"We expect to see more US cases," CDC's Nancy Messonnier said at a briefing for reporters. She and other health experts noted that the man was only infected through close contact with his wife after she showed symptoms of the illness, which is characterized by coughing, difficulty breathing, and pneumonia.
"We still believe the immediate risk to the American public is low," said CDC Director Robert Redfield on the telebriefing.
Among the 80 international cases, fewer than a dozen similar cases of person-to-person infection from a traveler to another person have been identified so far, Redfield noted. Those cases all involve close contact with a person with symptoms, like the Chicago-area man experienced.
CDC investigators, who are tracing all close contacts with US patients, still do not see signs of infection from casual contact with patients without symptoms, Redfield said.
Announcement of the Chicago man's diagnosis comes a day after President Trump named the members of a "President’s Coronavirus Task Force," headed by HHS secretary Alex Azar and run through the National Security Council. "The risk of infection for Americans remains low, and all agencies are working aggressively to monitor this continuously evolving situation," said a White House statement on the task force.