Health officials said Friday that there is "no immediate health risk to the general public" after a Chicago woman was diagnosed with the coronavirus, but offered the public reminders of preventative measures that should be taken to prevent the spread of respiratory disease.
The Chicago Department of Public Health recommended washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, noting that if soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be used.
Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, experts warned.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home if you are sick, officials said, adding that when coughing or sneezing - cover it with a tissue, then throw it in the trash.
You should also make sure to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
The CDC noted that there are no vaccines to protect against the coronavirus but taking preventative measures such as these could help reduce risk of infection.
But health officials were clear that the diagnosis in Chicago was a "single travel-associated case, not a local emergency," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady said at a news conference Friday morning.
The woman in her 60s was the second confirmed case of the new and potentially deadly virus in the United States, officials said. She returned from Wuhan, China - the epicenter of a recent outbreak - on Jan. 13 and was later hospitalized, a state epidemiologist with the Illinois Department of Public Health said.
The newly discovered virus, identified by Chinese authorities, has killed 26 people, sickened hundreds and prompted lockdowns of cities in China.
The Chicago woman did not have symptoms while traveling earlier this month but three to four days after returning to Chicago, she presented symptoms consistent with coronavirus and was hospitalized in isolation, Arwady said.
Arwady added that she called her doctor before traveling to a medical office or hospital, which she said was "exactly what any potentially ill returning traveler from Wuhan should do."
The patient is "doing well in stable condition," officials said Friday, but remained hospitalized in order to prevent the spread of the infection. She had limited movement outside her home after returning from China, Arwady said, and had not taken public transportation or attended any large gatherings.
"Based on what we know now about this virus, our concern for transmission before symptoms develop is low, so that is reassuring," Arwady said.