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Doctor: 'It Would Not Be Unexpected' To See Coronavirus In NYC

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The World Health Organization is set to decide Wednesday whether to declare a public health emergency over the coronavirus.

The virus, never seen in humans before last month, has been confirmed in the United States.

The mystery virus that's killed nine people, sickened nearly 450 and forced Chinese travelers to wear masks in public has made its way to the United States.

A man in his 30s is being quarantined in a hospital near Seattle after he felt sick Sunday, four days after arriving home in Washington State.

"I'm thankful the man who tested positive for this virus acted so quickly and sought treatment," State Secretary of Health John Wiesman said.

The patient was returning from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where it's believe the virus started in a food market. Workers there have been disinfecting the streets.

The major worry came Tuesday when the CDC announced not only does the virus jump from animals to humans, it can be spread from person to person.

"It's spread by droplets. When you cough, when you sneeze, it gets sprayed in the air," said Dr. Robert Glatter, of Lenox Hill Hospital.

Glatter told CBS2's Jessica Layton in severe cases the virus can lead to pneumonia, kidney failure and death.

"Anyone with respiratory distress, coughing, fever, chills, they need to be evaluated," he said.

Symptom checks of passengers coming into the country from Wuhan started Friday at JFK and airports in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Airports in Atlanta and Chicago start screening this week.

"Any person who has this travel link to Wuhan who has symptoms or a fever that's observed at the airport, we would be moving to basically a hospital setting with appropriate infection control," said Dr. Allison Arwady, with the Chicago Department of Health.

Glatter says he thinks it's possible we will see coronavirus in New York City.

"Certainly, New York is a hub. We're an international city," he said. "It would not be unexpected for us to have a case of coronavirus."

In the meantime, all the good hygiene tips you use to protect yourself from the cold and flu apply here: wash your hands often with soap and water, don't share utensils or drinks, and use anti-bacterial wipes since we know the infection can survive on surfaces for several hours.

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