Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

1st person-to-person spread of coronavirus in U.S. reported; WHO declares public health emergency :

January 30, 2020

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ph.D., M.Sc.

Editor's note:  For the latest AAP News coverage of coronavirus, visit

A novel coronavirus has spread from person-to-person in the U.S. for the first time, according to federal health officials.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, due to the increasing cases and countries affected.

A man in his 60s from Chicago appears to have caught the virus from his wife who caught it while traveling to China. The man, who is the sixth confirmed case in the U.S., had not traveled.

Health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasized the two had been in close contact, and they are monitoring other potential contacts.

“We understand this may be concerning, but based on what we know now, our assessment remains the immediate risk to the American public is low,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D.

Globally, there have been 7,834 cases of the respiratory virus and 170 deaths, according to the WHO. Most cases are in China, but they also have been reported in 18 other countries.

In the U.S., 92 people are awaiting test results.

“The only way we will defeat this outbreak is for all countries to work together in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ph.D., M.Sc. “We are all in this together and can only stop it together. This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumors. This is the time for solidarity not stigma.”

WHO officials said they did not see a need for restrictions on travel or trade. They called for support for countries with weak health systems; quick development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics; data-sharing and combating misinformation.

It is unclear whether the recommendations will change the CDC’s level 3 travel advisory warning against unnecessary travel to China or the U.S. State Department’s level 4 warning not to travel to Hubei province, the center of the outbreak.

Health care providers should be vigilant for patients who have traveled to China and have a fever and respiratory symptoms. Full CDC guidance is available at The CDC also has released detailed guidance on preventing the spread of coronavirus in health care settings at

In addition to the warnings about travel, officials recommend the general public avoid respiratory illnesses by washing their hands, covering their mouths when coughing and staying home when they are sick. Buying masks is not necessary.

Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal