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Univ. of Iowa researcher says majority of U.S. public is safe from coronavirus

Six people have now been diagnosed with the Coronavirus, two in Illinois, two in California, and one each in Arizona and Washington state.
Six people have now been diagnosed with the Coronavirus, two in Illinois, two in California, and one each in Arizona and Washington state.(KWQC)
Published: Jan. 30, 2020 at 10:43 PM CST
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One of the world's leading coronavirus researchers, who works at the University of Iowa, said the majority of the United States public is safe from the coronavirus.

On Thursday, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a

because it has now spread to 18 countries. Nearly 99 percent of cases have been limited to China.

Thursday night, the U.S. Dept. of State issued a

, as the virus continues to spread to more countries, including in the United States.

Health officials in Chicago confirmed the sixth case in the U.S. on Thursday. It is the first case in the U.S. of person-to-person spreading.

"The CDC, the Illinois Department of Public Health, Cook County Dept of Public Health, and the Chicago Dept of Health are confirming the second case of novel coronavirus here in Illinois," Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of Illinois Dept. of Public Health, said.

The coronavirus is confirmed in California, Washington, Arizona, and Illinois. Health officials said more cases could come, but they do not expect it to spread very far.

"This person to person spread was between two close contacts, a husband and wife. A woman in her 60s who returned from Wuhan, China on Jan. 13th," Dr. Ezike said.

Illinois Health officials said 21 other people in the state are currently being monitored, but the risk to the rest of the state remains low.

"We are not recommending people in the general public take additional precautions such as canceling activities or avoiding going out of their homes. The virus is not spreading widely across the community at this time," Dr. Ezike said.

Dr. Stanley Perlman, a professor at the Univ. of Iowa has been studying the virus for 38 years. He said while there is more to learn about the virus, your chances of becoming infected are virtually zero.

"We have to learn more about how the virus is transmitted, but unless you have recently been to China, or around somebody who just got back from china and was sick, the odds are zero, almost, that you have it," he said.

It's also important to remember if you are feeling sick, stay home.

"Washing your hands is really important and being careful about being around people who are sick," "The most important thing is if you are sick you shouldn't go to public area and get other people sick," Perlman said.

165 samples of suspected cases in the United States are being tested by the Centers for Disease Control. So far 68 have been negative, while the remaining are undergoing tests. According to the CDC, it may take up to 14 days for symptoms to develop after exposure.

A World Health Organization Declaration of an International Public Health Emergency is rare. Only five have been put into effect in the past decade. The last declaration was in 2019 for the ebola outbreak in Eastern Congo, which killed more than 2,000 people. Global Emergencies were also declared in 2016 for the zika virus and 2009 for swine flu.

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