By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – A second case of the deadly coronavirus has been detected in the U.S., health officials said Friday amid China's frenzied push to contain the outbreak.
The new case of a patient in Chicago is the second after health authorities identified a man from suburban Seattle, Washington as having the virus earlier this week.
The new patient had just returned from Wuhan, China, the virus' epicenter, on Jan. 13, and began experiencing symptoms a couple of days later when she called a healthcare provider, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement.
The patient was admitted to a local hospital, and is currently hospitalized in an isolation room in stable condition, the health agency said.
The CDC said that while it considers coronavirus "a serious public health threat," it is considering the immediate public health threat low. A CDC team has been deployed to work with Chicago and Illinois health professionals on the ongoing investigation into the current case.
The CDC cautioned that additional cases are "likely" in the coming days and weeks, and said Americans should avoid all nonessential travel to Wuhan, and recommended all travelers going to China should practice good hygiene and avoid people who are ill.
China announced Friday it has formed a research team of 14 experts to help prevent and monitor the recent outbreak.
Zhong Nanshan, a pivotal figure in China's response to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003, will lead the research team.
Chinese authorities further said they will build a new 1,000-bed hospital within six days in Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei Province.
The facility, which is planned to be finished before Feb. 3, will be the same design as a Xiaotangshan Hospital built in 2003 in Beijing in response to the SARS outbreak. It will be located on a roughly 270,000-square-foot (25,000 square meters) site and will be designed specifically to contain and treat the virus.
So far, 26 people have died in the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China, with most cases recorded in the central Hubei province.
The symptoms of the mystery virus resemble those of pneumonia, causing massive outcry in China as the country prepares to hold New Year celebrations on Saturday.
Chinese health officials confirmed Friday that 881 people have contracted the virus, CGTN news reported.
China has issued a transport ban in 13 cities including Xianning, Xiaogan, Enshi and Zhijiang — all located in the central Hubei province, where the virus first emerged. Wuhan shut down public transport to prevent further spread of the fatal virus.
Many airlines have suspended their flights to Wuhan due to fear of transmitting the virus to other areas, while Beijing has canceled large-scale activities ahead of celebrations for the Chinese New Year.
The Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on Jan. 25 this year. The celebrations often feature temple fairs, sports and exhibitions, usually held in Beijing during the holiday.
Travelers from China are being screened at several airports across the world in the wake of a deadly viral outbreak. Turkey has decided to scan all passengers traveling from China with thermal cameras at airports.
The WHO says Chinese authorities believe a new coronavirus from the family that produced SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) may be the cause of the mysterious pneumonia cases.
During an epidemic of SARS in 2003, more than 700 people — mostly in Asia — lost their lives.