The couple, who live in Atlanta, were tested after visiting a local doctor.
“These cases involve two individuals who reside in the same household. One who recently returned from Italy,” Kemp said at a press conference. The patient who returned from Italy said they didn’t feel any symptoms until they arrived back to Atlanta.
Both are now exhibiting symptoms, which officials described as minimal, and are isolated at their house. The self-isolation at home is safe, officials said, adding that it’s recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Officials are working on tracing people who came into contact with the two patients in recent days.
“We thought it was important that we come today and tell you about this even as our epidemiologists are still investigating and find any potential contacts in the community,” Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey told reporters.
“We will continue to search for any contacts to ensure that we stop any further spread in the community. The message to the public is still low risk. No local transmission going on and wash your hands and get a flu shot,” she added.
Kemp asked Georgia residents to remain calm and told them the government has been preparing for potential cases for weeks. The risk to the general public remains low, Toomey said.
The new virus emerged in China late last year and has infected tens of thousands of people, killing thousands. Ninety-one patients had tested positive for the virus in the United States as of Monday morning, not including the new cases in Georgia and elsewhere.
Cases have been confirmed in Florida, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Illinois, Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington state.
Most cases in the country are on the West Coast, in Washington state or California. All deaths in America from the virus have taken place in Washington state, with many linked to an outbreak at a nursing home in Kirkland, just outside Seattle.
Officials have said they expect to see a growing number of confirmed cases but that they don’t know what the spread of the virus will look like in the country.
The virus, which has an unknown origin, spreads primarily from person to person between people who are in close contact with one another, or within about six feet, according to the CDC. The virus spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
“These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs,” the CDC states on its website.
Limited spread can take place when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes.
Experts recommend frequently washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoiding sick people, and not touching one’s face with unwashed hands.
If people show symptoms of the virus, which are similar to the flu, they should stay home and contact their doctor or health authorities.
There is no vaccine or proven treatment but a number of people have recovered from the virus through rest and medical care.