As the death toll in the fatal coronavirus touched 213 globally, the United States reported its first case of human-to-human transmission of the deadly virus in Illinois. With this, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases reach six in the country, making it the fifth country where the virus has spread through human to human transmission. Until now eight person-to-person transmissions have been reported in China, Germany, Japan, and Vietnam.
Authorities expect more cases of person-to-person spread
Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, described it as "a very serious public health situation. Moving forward, we can expect to see more cases, and more cases means more potential for person-to-person spread."
The case was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The sixth victim has been identified as a 60-year-old male who got the virus transmitted from his wife, infected during a trip undertaken to Wuhan to help her ailing father.
Giving the details, the authorities said that the man has some underlying medical conditions but was in good condition. The wife was placed in the isolation at a local hospital after she showed the symptoms of the deadly virus, upon her arrival from Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus.
CDC director Dr Robert Redfield said that the officials were monitoring 165 patients across the US for a possibility of infection. Urging the public to stay calm, he said: "Our assessment remains that the immediate risk to the American public is low."
US issues advisory against traveling to China
Meanwhile, the US government, which has raised the coronavirus outbreak alert to the highest level, issued an advisory to its citizens urging them to drop their travel plans to China. The State Department's "do not travel" warning came soon after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus outbreak as Public Health Emergency of International Concern' (PHEIC). In the advisory the department requested that all non-essential US government personnel defer travel to China.
Earlier the American Airlines pilots' union was suing the airlines to abort the flights between the US and China, epicentre of the virus. In a statement, the union said it had instructed members to turn down requests to fly to China.
While majority of the airlines the world over have cancelled their flights to China and Wuhan in particular, with screening centres up at every airport, major companies including Google, Ikea, Starbucks and Tesla have closed their operations until the threat of the virus dies down.
WHO's Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "At least 170 people have died in China, and nearly 8,000 have been sickened. Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems and which are ill-prepared to deal with it."