Residents of Wuhan, China, line up outside a pharmacy. Image from China News Service video via Wikimedia Commons

California’s first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Orange County on Saturday night, as a traveler from Wuhan, China, tested positive for the deadly new strain of the disease.

The Orange County Health Care Agency said the patient was taken to a local hospital and is in isolation in good condition, according to a written statement.

About 11 p.m., the agency announced that it’s Communicable Disease Control Division received confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the case, and that the traveler “has been provided guidance to reduce exposure to the public while awaiting laboratory confirmation.”

It was the third case reported in the United States. Other cases have been confirmed in Washington state and Chicago. Both of those patients had also traveled to China. Screenings at major U.S. airports began last week.

The new 2019-nCoV strain of the severe respiratory illness, which was first identified in Wuhan in central China, has killed 56 people in that country. Wuhan and other cities were locked down as the number of confirmed cases soared above 2,000.

The Orange County agency said it was following up directly with all individuals who have had close contact with the coronavirus patient and are at risk of infection, and will be monitoring any close contacts and assure that proper evaluation and care is provided if someone becomes ill.

The CDC’s guidance indicates that people who have casual contact with a case — “in the same grocery store or movie theater” — are at “minimal risk of developing infection.”

It was not disclosed where and how the traveler entered into the country or into the county.

The agency said there is no evidence that person-to-person transmission has occurred in Orange County and that the current risk of local transmission remains low.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals. Animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people.

Symptoms of the new strain include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The CDC said symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 after exposure.

— From Staff and Wire Reports

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.