Officials have confirmed that a central California couple has been sickened with a new virus after the husband traveled to the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak, bringing the number of cases up to six in the state and 11 in the country.
The couple, both 57 years old, have not left their home since the husband returned from China, according to a Sunday announcement from San Benito County Health and Human Services. This was a case of person-to-person transmission, officials said.
A woman in the San Francisco Bay Area who became ill after returning from a trip to China was the ninth person in the U.S. to test positive for a new virus, health authorities said Sunday. It was the second novel coronavirus case announced in Santa Clara County in the past three days but the two cases are not related, according to the county Public Health Department.
The woman, a visitor to the U.S., had recently traveled to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus. She arrived Jan. 23 to visit family, officials said in a news release.
The patient has stayed at home with family since she arrived, except for two occasions when she sought outpatient medical care. She has been regularly monitored and was never sick enough to be hospitalized, the release said.
The woman’s family members have also been isolated at the home. The health department has been bringing them food and other necessities, officials said.
“A second case is not unexpected. With our large population and the amount of travel to China for both personal and business reasons, we will likely see more cases, including close contacts to our cases,” Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s health officer, said in a statement.
The first case in the Bay Area was a man who traveled to Wuhan and Shanghai before returning Jan. 24 to California, where he became ill, Cody said Friday.
The man was also never sick enough to be hospitalized and “self-isolated” by staying home, she said.
The man left home twice to seek outpatient care at a local clinic and a hospital. Public health officials are now trying to reach anyone he may have come into contact with during those times to assess whether they were exposed to the virus.
Those people, along with the few members of his household, will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
Health officials believe it can take up to two weeks for someone who is infected to get sick.
The virus has infected over 17,000 people worldwide and killed more than 300. The vast majority of the cases and all but one of the deaths have been in China. The first death outside China from the new virus was recorded Sunday in the Philippines.
Cody said there was no risk of infection for the general public from the Santa Clara County cases.
Nearly 200 Americans who were evacuated from Wuhan are under a 14-day quarantine at a military base outside Los Angeles — the first by the government in half a century.
Another planeload of passengers from China was expected to arrive Monday at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego, but that timing is now “fluid,” according to Rep. Scott Peters. The passengers, who have been screened twice for signs of the virus, will be quarantined at the base for 14 days to ensure they do not pose a health risk to the public, Peters said in a statement Sunday.
Other cases of the new pneumonia-like virus include two in Southern California, one in Massachusetts, one in Washington state, one in Arizona and two in Chicago.