US, Japan & Taiwan confirm domestic human-to-human transmission of Wuhan virus

On Wednesday, (29 January), the United States reported a case of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in its a first human-to-human transmission.

A man in his 60s in Illinois caught the virus from his wife who had recently travelled to China, said the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“It’s important to note that this spread was among two people who were in close contact for an extended period of time,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases on Thursday.

“Moving forward, we can expect to see more cases, and more cases mean the potential for more person-to-person spread.”

This is the sixth confirmed case of the virus in the US and one of the first few confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission outside of China.

In Japan, a man was confirmed to have contracted the virus in the country’s first domestic case on Tuesday (28 January). He was one of three people that the Japanese Health Ministry confirmed as having the virus. The other two were tourists from Wuhan.

The domestic case involves a man in his 60s who is a bus driver. He had driven two groups of tourists from Wuhan this month and his prolonged exposure to them in the bus is when he might have contracted the virus.

Additionally, Taiwan has also recorded local transmission of the virus in two cases, both spread in a family setting.

First, a man in his 50s from central Taiwan was confirmed positive on Tuesday and it believed that he was infected by his wife after she returned from working in China. She was subsequently diagnosed as well.

Yesterday, Taiwan’s confirmed it’ second domestic case involving a woman in her 40s who likely caught the bug from her husband who had recently returned from Wuhan.

Number of cases on the rise

Chinese authorities have put the nationwide death toll at 259 today. Over 110,000 people have been infected, according to official data.

China’s National Health Commission had earlier said that 43 new deaths had occurred —following the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) situation report on Thursday after the death toll reached 170—as a result of the virus, though 42 of them were in the Hubei province where the virus first emerged.

The commission added that China has confirmed nearly 2,000 new cases, bring the total number of infected cases in the country up to more than 9,600. This means that the number of 2019-nCoV cases in China have surpassed the number of cases it recorded during the 2002 SARS outbreak was at 5,327 confirmed cases.

Based on the latest estimates from WHO’s situational report, there are about 82 confirmed cases outside of China in about 18 countries, though those numbers are slowly increasing as new cases are being confirmed.

The WHO’s risk assessment holds at “very high” in China and “high” for the regional and global levels.

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