Man in Washington state first in USA to die from new virus


The first covid-19 patient to die in the United States came to EvergreenHealth in Kirkland, Wash., with "serious respiratory issues", the hospital said in a statement Saturday, though it remains unclear when the patient was admitted, when the symptoms first appeared and how long it took health officials to test the person for the novel coronavirus.

Washington state and King County health officials told the AP, "new people (have been) identified with the infection, one of whom died". The patient had not recently traveled.

In addition to announcing the death. health officials revealed there are even more confirmed cases of coronavirus in King County, although they did not immediately say how many, KIRO-TV reported.

The COVID-19 cases of unknown origin marks an escalation of the worldwide outbreak in the US because it means the virus could spread beyond the reach of preventative measures like quarantines. A second patient also tested positive and is in isolation receiving appropriate treatment.

The state of Washington has announced two presumptive cases.

The head of the World Health Organization said that kind of transmission, of unknown origin and possibly from the general population, represented the third of four outbreak stages that every nation must be prepared for: "Every country must be ready for its first case, its first cluster, the first evidence of community transmission, and for dealing with sustained community transmission", WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Taken together, the four cases are a sign the virus is now spreading within at least four separate locations on the U.S. West Coast spanning almost 900 miles (1,448 km), from California's Silicon Valley region in Santa Clara County north to the Puget Sound near Seattle.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a closed-door briefing in the U.S. House of Representatives that sustained spread of the coronavirus meant there would be many more infections in the United States, according to a source.

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"We want to lower the amount of travel to and from the most impacted areas", Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services, said.

Health officials in San Jose said the patient was an older adult woman with chronic health conditions who does not have a travel history or any known contact with a traveler or infected person.

The three latest patients were diagnosed based on results obtained in their respective states from CDC-supplied test kits and are considered "presumptive positive" cases pending CDC confirmatory testing, the US agency said.

China will step up efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays, amid a rise in confirmed cases. That's up from the 8,400 that Gov. Gavin Newsom cited on Thursday, though officials said the number increases daily as more flights arrive. Only two person-to-person transmissions were documented among them, both between married couples.

An additional 47 cases have been confirmed among people recently repatriated, either from the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Japan or from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the supposed epicentre of the outbreak, according to the CDC. Officials report that a handful of students who had contact with the student are being isolated for 14 days in their homes.

OR was able to more quickly identify a case - an employee of an elementary school near Portland - because it was able to test a sample locally.

President Trump held a press conference Saturday afternoon and described the individual who died of COVID-19 as a woman in her 50s.

Officials say COVID-19 can cause a fever, coughing, wheezing, and pneumonia, and spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to influenza.