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Second Illinois coronavirus case confirmed in spouse of first woman diagnosed

Second Illinois coronavirus case confirmed in spouse of first woman diagnosed

Case is first person-to-person transmission in U.S.; local risk ‘remains low,’ officials say

By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
jnowicki@capitolnewsillinois.com

SPRINGFIELD – The spouse of the first Illinoisan confirmed to have novel coronavirus has also tested positive for the illness and is being monitored, health officials said Thursday.

The case is the first confirmed person-to-person transmission of the virus in the U.S. and the sixth confirmed case in the country.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike hosted a news conference with county and city health officials in Chicago and said “the risk to the general public remains low.” 

“The second case is a Chicago man and is the husband of the first confirmed case in Illinois,” she said.

The woman, in her 60s, returned from Wuhan, China – the city at the center of the outbreak – in mid-January. Her husband did not travel to China.

All those who had close contact with the woman were being monitored, and her husband began displaying symptoms in recent days. When he did, he was admitted to the hospital and placed in isolation.

Dr. Ezike said there are 21 individuals in Illinois who are considered “persons under investigation” for the virus, which is considered “novel” because not much is known about the new strain.

She said health officials are taking other actions to guard against the spread of the virus and they continue to work with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“The virus is not spreading widely across the community at this time,” Ezike said.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the news was a “continuation” of last week’s news conference in which the first case in the state was reported.

She also said there is “not a significant risk of spread before people develop symptoms.”

Arwady said the first patient “is doing well,” and the transmission from wife to husband, who had close contact with each other, “is not totally unexpected.”

“She remains hospitalized and in isolation, primarily for infection control,” Arwady said, adding the woman’s husband is hospitalized and in stable condition as well.

She said the CDC believes it can take between two and 14 days for someone who has had contact with coronavirus to show symptoms of it if they contract it.

The World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern after calling an emergency committee meeting Thursday.

A WHO situation report dated Jan. 30 said there are 7,818 confirmed global cases of the virus, with all but 82 cases in China. The virus has caused 170 deaths.

This week, the CDC advised Americans to avoid all nonessential travel to China.

The WHO urges the general public to take the same steps to protect against the virus that are taken against the flu.

This includes frequently washing hands with sanitizer or soap and water; covering one’s mouth when coughing or sneezing; avoiding close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough; and seeking medical care early when symptoms show. Those with symptoms should relay travel histories to their medical professionals.

When visiting live markets in areas experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, the public should avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.

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