CORONAVIRUS

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This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP)
This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP)

UN agency declares global emergency over virus from China

The World Health Organization declared the outbreak sparked by a new virus in China that has been exported to more than a dozen countries as a global emergency Thursday after the number of cases spiked tenfold in a week.

The U.N. health agency defines an international emergency as an “extraordinary event” that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.

China first informed WHO about cases of the new virus in late December. To date, China has reported more than 7,800 cases including 170 deaths. Eighteen other countries have since reported cases, as scientists race to understand how exactly the virus is spreading and how severe it is.

Experts say there is significant evidence the virus is transmitting among people in China and have noted with concern several instances in other countries – including Japan, Germany, Canada and Vietnam – where there have also been isolated cases of human-to-human spread.

China first informed WHO about cases of the new virus in late December. To date, China has reported more than 7,800 cases including 170 deaths. Eighteen other countries have since reported cases, as scientists race to understand how exactly the virus is spreading and how severe it is.

Experts say there is significant evidence the virus is spreading g among people in China and have noted with concern several instances in other countries – including Japan, Germany, Canada and Vietnam – where there have also been isolated cases of human-to-human transmission.

A declaration of a global emergency typically brings greater money and resources, but may also prompt nervous governments to restrict travel and trade to affected countries. The announcement also imposes more disease reporting requirements on countries.

U.S. reports first case of person-to-person spread of the Coronavirus

Health officials Thursday reported the first U.S. case of person-to-person spread of the new virus from China.

The man is married to the Chicago woman who got sick from the virus after she returned from a trip to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak. There have been cases reported of the infectious virus spreading to others in a household or workplace in China and elsewhere.

The new case is the sixth reported in the United States. The other five were travelers who developed the illness after returning to the U.S. from China. The latest patient had not been in China.

The Chicago woman returned from central China on Jan. 13, then last week went to a hospital with symptoms and was diagnosed with the viral illness. She and her husband, both in their 60s, are hospitalized.

Experts have said they expected additional cases, and that at least some limited spread of the disease in the United States was likely. Health officials think the new virus spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Illinois health officials said that health workers and people who have been in contact with the latest patient are being monitored for symptoms.

“We anticipated this,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University infectious diseases expert. “The kind of contact that you have in a household is very close and very prolonged. That’s the kind of circumstance where we would anticipate a virus such as this could be transmitted.”

The virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. It is a member of the coronavirus family that’s a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past. The new virus has sickened thousands, mostly in China, and killed about 170.

An international outbreak caused by the virus first emerged last month in China. Doctors there began seeing the new virus in people who got sick after spending time at a wholesale food market in Wuhan. Officials said the virus probably initially spread from animals to people, as did SARS and MERS.

The other U.S. cases are in Arizona, Southern California and Washington state.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Author: Mike Stobbe / Associated Press
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