OLYMPIA – Today, January 21, 2020 the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) confirmed a case of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in a Snohomish County resident. While the risk to the general public is low, DOH is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Snohomish Health District to identify and contact all those who may have come in contact with the infected traveler. These individuals will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.
“As our team of experts partners with infectious disease specialists locally, nationally and around the globe to learn more about the 2019 novel coronavirus, our first priority remains public safety,” said Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “We believe the risk to the public is low. And as this situation evolves, we will continue to communicate with the CDC, Snohomish County and the public.”
The patient, a man in his 30s, is the first person known to be infected with 2019-nCoV in the United States. He arrived in Snohomish County on January 15 after traveling from Wuhan City, China, where an outbreak of 2019-nCoV has been underway since December 2019. As of the morning of January 21, there were 300 cases worldwide but that number is likely to grow.
The Washington patient developed symptoms and was seen at a clinic in Snohomish County. Specimens were collected and sent to the CDC for testing. The patient is currently being observed at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.
“Last night, the Snohomish Health District coordinated with local partners to safely transport the patient to Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. This is all being done following our jointly developed infectious disease protocols. No one wants to be the first in the nation in these types of situations, but these are the types of situations that public health and its partners train and prepare for. Because of this, everything has been going along quite smoothly,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer, Snohomish Health District.
The outbreak in Wuhan, China was originally linked to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting a possible zoonotic origin to the outbreak. Human to human spread has been confirmed. How easily or sustainably this virus is spreading remains unknown.
A hotline is being set up for members of the public who have questions and when it is activated, DOH will send out an additional notice to media and distribute on its social media channels.