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The first case of coronavirus with unknown origins has been confirmed in the United States.
“Unknown origins” means that the person who contracted the virus had not recently travelled, and that the person was not exposed to anyone who was infected. The virus, then, was spread by what the CDC calls a “community spread.”
The man—a Solano County, California resident—was admitted to the UC Davis Medical Centre, where he was eventually tested for coronavirus. According to CNN, the patient was not initially tested for the virus because his symptoms “did not fit the existing CDC criteria” for the novel virus which has now spread to at least 40 countries.
Dr. Dean Blumberg, an infectious disease specialist at UC Davis Medical Centre, told CNN the case was of major significance.
“That suggests that the virus is out there in the community, and that means pretty much that everybody’s at risk,” Blumberg said. “We don’t know who might be carrying it. We don’t know who we can get it from.” It’s currently unknown how the California man contracted the virus, though Blumberg says it’s likely whoever he got it from also spread it to others.
“You have to realize that this virus is so new, that none of us have any immunity to it. So, anybody who’s exposed is at high risk of getting infected with this.”
There are currently 60 confirmed cases of the virus in the United States. The city of San Francisco became the first to declare a state of emergency, with as many as 8,400 Californians in a self-quarantine.
The vast majority of the cases originate from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was the recent site of a viral outbreak. The others are travellers returning from China.