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California patient is 4th US case of coronavirus from China

The human coronavirus is shown in a file image made from a transmission electron microscopy view. (Photo by Cavallini James/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Health officials in Los Angeles County have confirmed a fourth U.S. case of the new pneumonia-like virus from China.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Sunday the infected person presented themselves for care once they noticed that they were not feeling well and is currently receiving medical attention.

The person is a returning traveler from Wuhan City, China. The case comes on the heels of confirmed cases in Orange County, California, Washington state and Chicago.

The virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. It is a member of the coronavirus family that’s a close cousin to the deadly SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past.

The two California cases come on the heels of diagnoses in Washington state, on Jan. 21, and Chicago, on Jan. 24. Both patients — in Washington, a man in his 30s, and in Chicago, a woman in her 60s — had also traveled to China.

The death toll from the virus in China is at 56 so far. China has issued massive travel bans in hard-hit sections of that country to try to stem spread of the virus, and the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan announced Sunday that it would evacuate its personnel and some private citizens aboard a charter flight.


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The CDC expects more Americans to be diagnosed with the newly discovered virus, which is believed to have an incubation period of about two weeks, as worldwide the number of confirmed cases nears 2,000. The CDC is screening passengers on direct and connecting flights from Wuhan at five major airports in Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The Orange County patient had contacted local health officials, who provided guidance to reduce exposure to the public while awaiting laboratory confirmation from the CDC. The Orange County agency has consulted with the CDC and the California Department of Health and will follow up with people who have had close contact with the patient.

Guidance from the CDC advises that people who have had casual contact with the patient are at "minimal risk" for developing infection. There’s no evidence that person-to-person transmission occurred in Orange County, and the risk of local transmission remains low, the release said. Further details about the case weren’t released. The CDC hadn’t added the Southern California case to its summary of U.S. cases as of early Sunday.

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