Sacramento confirms first coronavirus case in patient who traveled to China

Health officials in Sacramento confirmed the county’s first case of novel coronavirus in an adult who recently returned from a trip to China. The patient returned to the U.S. on Feb. 2 and had been under self-quarantine until developing mild symptoms.

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According to a news release, the patient’s health care provider worked with the Sacramento County Public Health to coordinate testing with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health. It was not clear when the patient tested positive for the virus, but officials said the patient is currently asymptomatic and will remain home in mandatory isolation “until cleared by Sacramento County Public Health.”

Officials said that at this point, the public’s risk of exposure remains “extremely low.”

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“Cases in the U.S. including this first case in Sacramento County, have primarily been travel-related,” Dr. Peter Beilenson, the health department’s director, said. “The risk of COVID-19 to the U.S. public continues to be low. Sacramento County health providers are continuing to be vigilant, monitoring for acute respiratory illness, and gathering recent travel information to detect any new COVID-19 cases.”

The newly confirmed case was not mentioned during a CDC telebriefing held on Friday, where officials said they will be counting cases involving passengers who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship separately from other travel-related cases. At least 11 of the American evacuees who had been quarantined on the ship have tested positive for the virus, with officials warning that more cases could be expected. Those cases are not included in the 15 others that had been confirmed in Americans who were either evacuated from or had recently traveled to China.

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The virus has infected over 76,000 people worldwide, although the majority of cases remain in mainland China. At least 2,250 have died, including a 29-year-old doctor in China who had allegedly put off his wedding in order to help treat patients.

Officials in South Korea have reported a sharp uptick in cases, with the country deciding to shut schools and cancel mass gatherings in an attempt to stop the spread. As of Friday, officials reported two deaths and over 204 cases, which marks a steep rise from just two days earlier.

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“We have entered an emergency phase,” Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun said in televised comments at the start of a government meeting on the health emergency. “Our efforts until now had been focused on blocking the illness from entering the country. But we will now shift the focus on preventing the illness from spreading further in local communities.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.