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World Health Organization declares Coronavirus epidemic a public health emergency

Coronavirus
NBC News

Announcement comes as first human-to-human transmission in U.S. is confirmed

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KYMA, KECY/NBC News) - The World Health Organization declared Thursday the deadly coronavirus epidemic in China is a public health emergency of international concern.

The announcement comes as health officials in the United States confirm the first case of transmission through human-to-human contact.

NBC's Wendy Woolfolk has details.

"This person to person spread was between two close contacts a husband and wife. the virus is not spreading widely across the community at this time." said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The latest victim of the coronavirus here in the U.S. is the husband of a woman from suburban Chicago. The woman recently returned from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak. She began exhibiting symptoms in mid-January. She and her husband are now quarantined.

"Public health officials are investigating locations where this second patient has visited in last two weeks and any contacts who were possibly exposed." said Dr. Ezike.

While this infection brings the total case number to six nationwide, health officials believe the risk to the general public remains low.

There are still 195 Americans quarantined. They're undergoing screenings at an Air Force base in California after returning from Wuhan Wednesday.

As the number of confirmed cases in China is rapidly approaching 8,000, Amazon is suspending travel there. Google is temporarily closing offices and restricting travel.

Right now health officials don't think face masks are necessary here in the U.S.. They say the best line of defense is washing hands, and covering your mouth when you cough.

Symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath.

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Lisa Sturgis

Lisa Sturgis recently returned to KYMA as its Digital Content Director, but she has a long history with the Desert Southwest.

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