The deadly coronavirus has spread to California; health officials have confirmed one individual each in Los Angeles and Orange counties have tested positive for the virus. [LA Times]
In both of the Southern California cases, the virus was brought by travelers from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak. The strain of coronavirus that has made its way to California is the same one that has spread to 14 countries and territories and has infected more than 2,700 people, while causing 80 deaths.
The strain of the virus was first discovered in central China in late December. Currently, there are three other diagnosed cases in the United States — one each in Arizona, Washington state and Chicago.
The L.A.County patient was a resident of Wuhan who was flying through Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday on his way back to China. After informing airport personnel about feeling the sick, the patient was taken directly to a hospital.
No Los Angeles County residents were infected or at risk, as of Sunday morning, health officials said.
The LA County patient is continuing to receive medical treatment at a hospital. The Orange County patient is in isolation at a hospital and is said to be in good condition.
Health officials in both counties are examining individuals with whom the patients had close contact. Officials say casual contact with an infected person — like being in the same building — only creates a minimal risk of transmission of the virus.
But, Chinese officials now say people infected with the virus are contagious prior to displaying symptoms, which makes the coronavirus more difficult to contain.
The new strain of coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, can cause pneumonia and respiratory illness in infected individuals. Patients can display pneumonia-like symptoms, including fever, coughing and shortness of breath. In extreme cases, the virus can be fatal.
Most people who have died as a result of the virus were at least 50 years old with preexisting medical problems or weakened immune systems, Chinese officials said. But, a 36-year-old man died as a result of the virus last week, and a healthcare worker is also reported to have died.