The fourth U.S. case of Wuhan coronavirus has been confirmed in Los Angeles County—the first in the county, according to local health officials in a statement on Sunday.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said the sickened person “presented themselves for care once they noticed that they were not feeling well,” adding that this person had recently traveled to the United States from Wuhan, China, where hundreds of people have been infected by the contagious virus. Chinese officials have said that 56 people have died since the outbreak was first reported in late December.
Three other coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Washington state, Illinois, and Orange County, California. The Orange County patient—confirmed by health officials on Saturday—is in good condition and in isolation at the hospital. That person had also traveled recently to Wuhan and tested positive.
“There is no immediate threat to the general public, no special precautions are required, and people should not be excluded from activities based on their race, country of origin, or recent travel if they do not have symptoms of respiratory illness,” LA County Public Health said in its statement.
The agency said it is now working to identify anyone who might have come into close contact with the person and is monitoring for possible coronavirus symptoms.
“Health is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal, state and local agencies to monitor this novel coronavirus that has emerged from Wuhan, China, over the past few weeks. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available,” the department added in its statement.
The new strain of coronavirus, known officially as 2019-nCoV, can cause pneumonia and respiratory illnesses. Officials originally suspected that it had been spreading from animals to people around Wuhan, but there have been indications that it’s spreading from person to person.
In the Washington state and Illinois cases, both patients had recently traveled to China. They were identified in previous reports as a man in his 30s and a woman in her 60s.
The CDC expects more U.S. cases of coronavirus to emerge in the coming days. Its assessment was based on prior outbreaks of infectious viruses such as SARS and MERS. “It’s likely that person-to-person spread will continue to occur,” the health agency said on its website last week.
But in China, the situation appears far direr, with the mayor of Wuhan, Zhou Xianwang, telling reporters Sunday that he expects 1,000 new cases of coronavirus in the coming days. More specialized hospitals will be constructed to deal with the coronavirus patients, he said.
The Chinese health emergency has prompted the U.S. Department of State to issue an alert to its American staff and private citizens in Wuhan.