ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. There are now five confirmed cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Sunday evening.
The CDC says it confirmed additional travel-related infections of 2019-nCoV on Sunday, this time in Arizona and California. One of those cases was in Orange County.
The new patients, like the previous U.S. patients, had recently returned to America from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak of respiratory illness is believed to have originated.
Based on the patients’ travel history and symptoms, healthcare professionals suspected 2019-nCoV. Clinical specimens were collected and sent to CDC, where laboratory testing confirmed the infection.
The CDC says investigations are underway to determine where the patients went after returning to the U.S. and any close contacts who were possibly exposed.
Health officials are working closely with state and local public health authorities in the affected states – Arizona, California, Illinois, and Washington – to identify potential cases early and make sure patients get the best and most appropriate care.
According to the CDC, it’s likely that there will be more cases reported in the U.S. in the coming days and weeks, likely including person-to-person spread.
Sunday morning, China announced 15 more deaths in connection with the virus, including the first case in Shanghai, bringing the total in the Asian country to 56, The New York Times reports. The number of confirmed cases in the country reportedly stands at 1,975.
In previous outbreaks with MERS and SARS, the two other coronaviruses that have jumped the species barrier to cause severe illness in people, person-to-person spread has been seen, including among healthcare workers caring for patients ill with coronavirus infection.
While the new coronavirus is a serious public health threat, the CDC says it continues to believe the immediate risk to the U.S. general public is low at this time.
Right now, the CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential travel to the Hubei Province in China. People traveling to other parts of China are advised to practice certain health precautions like avoiding contact with people who are sick and practicing good hand hygiene.
As for the general public, the CDC says no additional precautions are recommended at this time beyond the simple daily precautions that everyone should always take to stop the spread of disease, like washing your hands and avoiding sick people as much as possible.