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More cases of coronavirus confirmed in California

The number of coronavirus cases in California grew to six and includes a close household transmission, the California Department of Public Health reported on Sunday.

Currently, the California Department of Public Health has confirmed a total of six cases of novel coronavirus in California: two people in Santa Clara County, two people in San Benito County, one person in Los Angeles County and one person in Orange County have tested positive for novel coronavirus 2019.

The two cases in San Benito County are spouses, one of whom traveled to China and one who did not. This marks the first instance of close household person-to-person transmission of novel coronavirus in California. There is no evidence of person-to-person transmission in the general public in California.

"The California Department of Public Health is closely coordinating with the CDC and local partners to address novel coronavirus 2019 and we are prepared," said Dr. Sonia Angell, California Public Health Department Director and State Health Officer. "The novel coronavirus is a serious public health concern, however the risk to the general public in California remains low. We have had only one case of person-to-person transmission here and it was from a traveler to China to a spouse. Both are in stable condition."

The new virus comes from a large family of what are known as coronaviruses, some causing nothing worse than a cold, but others cause more serious illnesses such as SARS. It causes cold- and flu-like symptoms, including cough and fever, and in more severe cases, shortness of breath. It can worsen to pneumonia, which can be fatal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that symptoms can appear as quick as two days and up to 14 days after exposure.

The viruses are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats and it’s rare that animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people, such as the case with this current coronavirus.

First detected in December, the virus is believed to have originated in a type of wild animal sold at a Wuhan market to be consumed as food.

The CDC said person-to-person spread occurs mainly via respiratory droplets from when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s currently unclear if a person can get the novel coronavirus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

On Jan. 30, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.” Worldwide there are more than 24,000 cases and have been 492 deaths. The U.S. has confirmed 11 cases and has put in place travel restrictions to try and stop the spread of the virus.

The California Department of Public Health has been prepared and is continuing with the following actions:

·      -   Providing information about the outbreak and how to report suspect cases to local health departments and health care providers in California.

·      -   Coordinating with federal authorities who plan to quarantine passengers returning to the U.S. from Hubei Province, China, through SFO and LAX.

·       -  Assuring that health care providers know how to safely manage persons with possible novel coronavirus 2019 infection.

·       -  Supporting hospitals and local public health laboratories for collection and shipment of specimens for testing at CDC for novel coronavirus 2019.

·        - Activating the Department of Public Health's Emergency Operations Center to coordinate response efforts across the state.

As with any virus, especially during the flu season, the Health Department reminds you there are a number of steps you can take to protect your health and those around you:

·        - Washing hands with soap and water.

·       -  Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

·       -  Avoiding close contact with people who are sick are all ways to reduce the risk of infection with a number of different viruses.

·        - Staying away from work, school or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.