SHORELINE, WA — A Snohomish County man continues to be monitored in isolation at Providence Regional Medical Center after he was diagnosed with the first known U.S. case of a new respiratory virus linked to Wuhan, China. In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, health officials said 16 people were identified as having “close contacts” with the man since he returned to the Seattle area.
Latest: 43 People Monitored For ‘Close Contact’ With Coronavirus Patient
The man, who has not been identified, traveled to China in November and returned home last week. Health officials said he showed no symptoms on the flight and checked into a Snohomish County health clinic a day later with a cough and a fever.
Medical teams were working to reach out to everyone who may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, but so far no one else has reported symptoms.
As a precaution, health officials are also working to notify any passengers who were on the man’s flight.
While researchers are still learning exactly how the new virus behaves, other coronaviruses are primarily spread through “respiratory droplets,” which only travel up to 6 feet from an infected person. Patients are generally not contagious before symptoms begin. Symptoms can include coughing, fever and respiratory issues.
State health officials said the risk to the general public remains low. The best way to stay healthy, or avoid spreading the illness, is the same advice given for cold and flu season.
“Wash your hands regularly and, if you’re sneezing or coughing, stay home,” said John Wiesman, the state’s secretary of health.
Chinese media report that a complete travel ban was enacted in the city of Wuhan, barring travel by bus, train or aircraft, after updated numbers showed 17 deaths and more than 550 infections in the country.
Health agencies globally are working to identify the source of the infection.
The Department of Health has activated a call center for Snohomish County residents with questions about the novel coronavirus. It can be reached at 425-388-5088 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.