CHICAGO – The first case of human-to-human coronavirus transmission in the U.S. has been confirmed, in a patient in Illinois, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.
The transmission occurred between a husband and wife, who were in close contact with one another. The wife, a woman in her 60s, had traveled Wuhan, China, and had been diagnosed with the virus last week.
The transmission marks the sixth case of coronavirus in the U.S.
The World Health Organization is set to decide Thursday whether to declare the new coronavirus, which has sickened thousands and sparked concern around the world, a public health emergency of international concern.
The organization deliberated for two days last week on the same issue but declined to declare a global emergency at the time. Since then, however, patients from Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus without having visited China. The new coronavirus is in the same family of viruses as the common cold and SARS.
That human-to-human transmission outside of China “worries us,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general at WHO, said during a Wednesday news conference.
At last count, more than 7,700 people have been sickened by the novel coronavirus and 170 people have died from the disease. More than 90% percent of those cases, and all of the deaths, occurred in China.
According to WHO, 20% of cases are considered to be severe and 2% have been fatal. It’s expected that the fatality rate of the new coronavirus will decrease as more cases are reported, since the sickest individuals tend to seek medical treatment first.