First man in US to catch China’s new virus

SEATTLE (AP) — The United States (US) on Tuesday reported its first case of a new and potentially deadly virus circulating in China, saying a Washington state resident who returned last week from the outbreak’s epicentre was hospitalised near Seattle.

The man, identified as a Snohomish County resident is in his 30s, was in good condition and wasn’t considered a threat to medical staff or the public, health officials said.

US officials stressed that they believe the virus’ overall risk to the American public remained low.

“This is not a moment of high anxiety,” Governor Jay Inslee said.

The newly discovered virus has infected about 440 people, all of whom had been in China, and killed nine. The virus can cause coughing, fever, breathing difficulty and pneumonia.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee speaks at a news conference in Shoreline, Washington. PHOTO: AP

The US joins a growing list of places outside mainland China reporting cases, following Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Late last week, US health officials began screening passengers from Wuhan in central China, where the outbreak began.

The screening had been underway at three US airports — New York City’s Kennedy airport and the Los Angeles and San Francisco airports.

On Tuesday, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would add Chicago’s O’Hare airport and Atlanta’s airport to the mix later this week.

What’s more, officials also will begin forcing all passengers from Wuhan to go to one of those five airports if they wish to enter the US.

The hospitalised US resident had no symptoms when he arrived at the Seattle-Tacoma airport last Wednesday.

However, he started feeling ill last Thursday and went to a doctor on Sunday with a fever and a cough, officials said.

Lab testing on Monday confirmed he had the virus. “The gentleman right now is very healthy,” Dr Nancy Messonnier of the CDC said on Tuesday.

The man is originally from central China, lives alone in the US and made the trip solo, officials said.

There were relatively few people who came in contact with him since he got back, health officials said.