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Coronavirus In Seattle
caption: In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, a biplane hangs from the ceiling of the Gina Marie Lindsey Arrivals Hall at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash.
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In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, a biplane hangs from the ceiling of the Gina Marie Lindsey Arrivals Hall at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash.
Credit: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Doctors tracking people in contact with coronavirus patient in Washington state

At least 16 people had close contact with the Washington man who's sick with coronavirus.

The patient is still in isolation at an Everett hospital, and his close contacts are now being monitored. He's the first person in the U.S. diagnosed with the new strain of coronavirus.

The state's Secretary of Health, John Wiesman, says the risk to the public still remains low.

"All the close contacts will be part of what we call active monitoring," he says. " That means that a public health worker will call the person daily, do a symptom check for them, and see if they have a fever, cough, or any respiratory issues."

Wiesman says he does expect more contacts to be identified, and that more people in the U.S. will be likely diagnosed with "2019 novel coronavirus" (the new strain).

It's in the same family as the SARS and MERS viruses, and has sickened hundreds of people in China.

Doctor Chris Spitters with the Snohomish Health District says they're monitoring the patient and contacts closely. He says "local health departments started reaching out to them [Tuesday]. I realize that everyone is anxious to have locations for possible exposure listed - I want you to rest assured that if there is a location that information will be released quickly."

To prevent the spread of the illness, transportation officials are screening every traveler that comes to the U.S. from Wuhan, China.

Authorities in Wuhan have reportedly shut down outbound flights and trains as of Thursday, according to state media.

Human coronaviruses are most commonly spread through droplets, such as through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms can include fever, pneumonia, and more.