New Delhi: The United States has confirmed its first case of Coronavirus, a new virus that has claimed six lives in China and affected hundreds. A US man who lives near Swattle has approached the authorities after reading about the SARS-like virus in news reports. He has been hospitalised.

According to reports, the man entered the country on January 15 after travelling to Wuhan, two days before the US began deploying health officials at major airports to screen passengers arriving from that central Chinese city which is at the heart of the outbreak. The efforts are to be extended now to a total of five US airports.

Fears of a bigger outbreak rose after a prominent expert from China’s National Health Commission confirmed late Monday that the virus can be passed between people, reported AFP.

The UN agency will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to determine whether to declare a rare global public health emergency over the disease, which has also been detected in Thailand, Japan and South Korea and Taiwan.

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals. The viruses can make people sick, usually with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold. Coronavirus symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, possibly a headache and maybe a fever, which can last for a couple of days.

The WHO has only called a global public health emergency a handful of times, including during the H1N1 — or swine flu — pandemic of 2009 and the Ebola epidemic that devastated parts of West Africa from 2014 to 2016.