AILSA CHANG, HOST:
U.S. health authorities have identified a second case of a dangerous new coronavirus in the U.S. The virus can cause severe respiratory illnesses and even death. NPR's Rob Stein joins us now with details on this latest case.
ROB STEIN, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa. How are you doing?
CHANG: I understand we're talking about a Chicago woman in her 60s. Tell us a little more about her.
STEIN: Yeah. So health officials say this woman traveled to Wuhan, China, in late December. And as you know, Wuhan is the epicenter of this big outbreak in China.
STEIN: She returned home to Chicago on January 13, and then got sick. And when her doctor found out she'd been to Wuhan, the doctor immediately put a mask on her, sent her to a hospital where she could be isolated to keep her from spreading the virus.
CHANG: So how is she doing now? I mean, what are officials saying about the broader risk of infection here in the U.S.?
STEIN: Yeah. So she's hospitalized, but officials say she's doing well. And she's in the hospital primarily to prevent her from spreading the infection to anyone else. And officials are stressing that the risk to the public appears to be very low. You know, the woman wasn't sick on the plane and doesn't appear to have had contact with a lot of other people outside of her home. You know, she didn't take public transportation, for example, or go to any big gatherings.
Here's Allison Arwady. She's Chicago's health commissioner.
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ALLISON ARWADY: So this is all very reassuring in terms of infection risk to the general public, which remains low nationally and locally here in Chicago.
STEIN: But health officials are tracking down anyone she did have contact with so they can keep an eye on them.
CHANG: OK. So she is the second case here in the U.S. How is the first U.S. patient with the coronavirus doing? This is the one from Washington state, right?
STEIN: Yeah. So that was a similar situation. A man from Washington state got sick after he took a trip. He's also still hospitalized, and officials are watching dozens of people who had contact with him for any signs that they caught the virus from him.
CHANG: And what else are health officials doing here to try to protect people in the U.S. from infection?
STEIN: The CDC is still screening travelers arriving at U.S. airports from the most severely affected parts of China. And they're doing things like handing out cards advising them that it could take a couple of weeks before any symptoms show up. And officials are already investigating at least 50 possible cases from 22 states.
STEIN: And they say they won't be surprised if they find more cases among travelers and, you know, if people who do come back with the virus end up infecting others. But they're really stressing that the risk to the public at this point remains very low. Here's Nancy Messonnier from the CDC.
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NANCY MESSONNIER: We understand that some people are worried about this virus and how it may impact Americans. While this situation poses a very serious public health threat, CDC believes that the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low at this time. But the situation continues to evolve rapidly.
STEIN: Yeah. So officials, they say they're going to continue to be aggressively staying on top of the situation.
CHANG: And, very quickly, where do things stand with containing this virus elsewhere in the world, especially China?
STEIN: Yeah. So there are more than 800 cases reported in China, including at least 40 deaths. And cases have popped up in a handful of other countries in Asia. And France just announced the first two cases in Europe.
CHANG: That's NPR's Rob Stein.
Thank you, Rob.
STEIN: Oh, sure thing.
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