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A second U.S. case of coronavirus confirmed, possible cases monitored

20 Million People Quarantined in China Due to Coronavirus Outbreak The government of China has suspended travel in and out of three cities, including Wuhan. According to 'USA Today,' at least 17 people have died due to the virus. More than 500 have been infected. The virus is thought to have been spread from an animal to a human. More than a month after the first confirmed case in Wuhan, China officials confirmed the coronavirus spreads between humans. It has been confirmed in a handful of othe

American health officials are on high alert for a deadly coronavirus that continues to spread around the world, as a second case in the U.S. was confirmed Friday.

The number of diagnoses has climbed to more than 850 globally, with at least 26 deaths in China.

The Georgia Department of Public Health is advising health-care providers to be on the lookout for patients who have recently traveled to Wuhan, China — where the outbreak began — and are experiencing fever and respiratory symptoms.

Patients wait to see doctors at No. 9 Hospital in Wuhan, China, on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, where the medical staff are all wearing heavily protective clothing. Struggling to contain a deadly virus overwhelming hospitals and fueling fears of a pandemic, China on Thursday sharply expanded travel restrictions to millions more residents in the center of the country where the malady was first reported three weeks ago. (Chris Buckley/The New York Times)
Patients wait to see doctors at No. 9 Hospital in Wuhan, China, on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, where the medical staff are all wearing heavily protective clothing. Struggling to contain a deadly virus overwhelming hospitals and fueling fears of a pandemic, China on Thursday sharply expanded travel restrictions to millions more residents in the center of the country where the malady was first reported three weeks ago. (Chris Buckley/The New York Times)

The U.S. case involves a Chicago woman who flew to Wuhan in late December. The woman, in her 60s, came back to the U.S. on January 13. A few days after her return, she started feeling ill and called her doctor.

She has since been hospitalized and is isolation, but authorities say she is in stable condition and doing well.

Meanwhile, 63 people in 22 states are being tested for the virus. None are in Georgia, according to public health officials.

More cases likely will be reported in the U.S. in the coming days and weeks, health officials said.

The quickly spreading virus, which was first reported to the World Health Organization as a cluster of cases less than a month ago, has cropped up in Thailand, Japan and South Korea. Friday, France announced two cases of the virus — the first in Europe.

MORE: Amid coronavirus outbreak, Delta waives change fees for travelers with flights booked to China

MORE: What is the Wuhan coronavirus?

MORE: Wuhan halts outbound flights, trains to battle virus

Coronaviruses can cause respiratory illnesses that can be mild and include fever and coughing, or severe and lead to pneumonia, kidney failure and death. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, is a well-known coronavirus that was first reported in Asia in 2002. It spread to more than two dozen countries, but was quickly contained in the U.S.

“My level of concern is a 7 or 8 out of 10. The cases are going up. It’s growing to different countries,” said Dr. Mark Jackwood, a University of Georgia molecular virologist who studies avian coronaviruses. “But I also have a lot of faith in our health care system, and they can do exactly what we did with SARS — quickly identify people with the virus, quarantine them and stop it.”

Because symptoms of the new coronavirus can be difficult to distinguish from a common cold or the flu, which is widely circulating in Georgia and across the country, officials said it’s critical for people who recently traveled to China to contact their doctors if experiencing symptoms.

The first confirmed case in the U.S. came earlier in the week — a man in his 30s in the state of Washington. He returned home from a trip to Wuhan on Jan. 15, arriving at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport before any health screenings began at U.S. airports.

A passenger walks on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, through the railway station in Wuhan, China, where only a few passengers were debarking trains and residents were told that they could not board any. (Chris Buckley/The New York Times)
A passenger walks on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, through the railway station in Wuhan, China, where only a few passengers were debarking trains and residents were told that they could not board any. (Chris Buckley/The New York Times)

Public health screenings are now taking place at five airports, including Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The only nonstop route to Atlanta from China is a Delta Air Lines flight from Shanghai, a route the airline relaunched in 2018. However, there are other flights from Asia to Atlanta that may have passengers connecting from China, including flights from Seoul and Tokyo.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Delta Air Lines announced Friday that it is waiving change fees for travelers with flights booked from or through Beijing or Shanghai. The day before, the airline said change fees would be waived for passengers with flights booked to Wuhan.

Heavy equipment works at a construction site for a field hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province.
Heavy equipment works at a construction site for a field hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province.

Credit: Chinatopix/AP

Credit: Chinatopix/AP

The outbreak has prompted Chinese authorities to lock down some cities. It’s an unprecedented effort to try to contain the virus during the Lunar New Year travel rush. Images on social media show normally bustling streets, shopping malls, restaurants and other public spaces empty and quiet.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers this a serious public health concern, the agency said the health risk to the general American public is considered “low at this time.”

Coronaviruses, in general, are spread through close contact, usually when a sick person coughs or sneezes on someone. There is no vaccine and no specific treatment for the new coronavirus. Recommended measures are similar to those for a cold, such as rest and drinking a lot of fluids.

Experts emphasize that basic precautionary measures, such as thorough hand washing, are the best weapons against disease spread.

Jackwood, the infectious disease researcher, said he is not worried about his personal health and doesn’t think others here should worry either. “You definitely don’t want to panic. That is a no-brainer,” he said. “The odds of going about your normal day and being exposed to something like this are very small.

Staff writer Kelly Yamanouchi and the Associated Press contributed to this article.