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'Very Possible' LA County Sees At Least One Coronavirus Case: Health Official

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Despite an outbreak of a coronavirus in China that has been linked to 17 deaths, Los Angeles County public health officials Wednesday stressed that while it's "very possible" the area will see at least one patient, there were currently no known cases in the county.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Department of Public Health, said given the number of people traveling between the Southland and China, the county remains prepared to respond to any cases that may emerge.

"There is no need to exclude from the public any folks who have traveled to and from Wuhan city unless they're symptomatic," Ferrer said. "I know concerns have been raised about whether people need to be isolated during what's an unknown incubation period, but at this point the guidance is clear that unless you're symptomatic you should continue with your daily activities."

As of Jan. 21, there was one confirmed U.S. case of 2019 novel coronavirus, a resident in Washington state who traveled to Wuhan, China, according to Ferrer.

The person became ill prior to airport screening measures being implemented at LAX and two other U.S. airports. That person remains isolated with mild symptoms, Ferrer said.

Globally, over 500 people in five countries have become sick with coronavirus, and while she downplayed the potential of any outbreak in L.A. County, Ferrer did say she expects to see "some cases".

"There's a lot of travel here from Wuhan and other parts of China," she said.

Earlier Wednesday, the World Health Organization put off deciding whether to declare the outbreak a global health emergency, asking its expert committee to continue its meeting for a second day.

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