Wuhan virus: US sees first case of human-to-human infection

Passengers exit customs and screening areas as they arrive at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Jan 24, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (AFP) - United States health officials said on Thursday (Jan 30) that they have identified the first case of a person who caught the 2019 novel coronavirus from another person on American soil - a man who contracted the illness from his wife.

"The second person in Illinois testing positive for the novel coronavirus is a Chicago resident and is the spouse of the first confirmed travel associated case in Illinois," said Mr Robert Redfield, director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The first confirmed case concerned a woman in her 60s who had recently travelled to Wuhan.

Her husband did not travel to China.

Ms Jennifer Layden, the state's chief medical officer, said the man's condition was "stable" and that his situation was exacerbated by some underlying medical conditions.

Both federal and state officials, however, stressed that the pathogen is not spreading widely in communities and the overall risk to Americans remains low.

The latest case brings the overall number of confirmed patients with the virus in the US to six.

As of Thursday, some 7,700 cases have been confirmed in China, its country of origin, with at least 170 fatalities.

The virus has spread from the city of Wuhan across China to more than 15 countries, with about 60 cases in Asia, Europe, North America and, most recently, the Middle East.

No deaths have been attributed to the virus outside China.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.