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First coronavirus death in USA


REUTERS

First coronavirus death in USA

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A Washington state man in his 50s with underlying health issues became the United States’ first fatality from the coronavirus, officials said on Saturday, as the Trump administration stepped up efforts to combat the spread of the global outbreak.

The patient, who was chronically ill prior to contracting COVID-19, died at EvergreenHealth Hospital in Kirkland, near Seattle, and officials are unsure how he was exposed to the virus, said Jeffrey Duchin, head of the Washington health department’s communicable disease unit.

The state has recorded two other “presumptive” coronavirus cases at a long-term care facility in Kirkland where more than 50 residents and staff could be showing symptoms, he said.

“At this point we do not have widespread community-wide transmission locally. We have transmission that’s associated with an outbreak at this long-term care facility,” Duchin said.

The two cases at the Kirkland facility were a health care worker in her 40s who is in satisfactory condition, and a woman in her 70s who lived there and is in serious condition.

“It is a sad day as we learn a Washingtonian has died from COVID-19. Our hearts go out to his family and friends,” the state’s governor, Jay Inslee, said in a statement. “We are strengthening our preparedness and response efforts to keep Washingtonians healthy, safe and informed.”

The first U.S. coronavirus death capped a week of stock market upheaval and escalating concern among state and federal health officials as the virus has spread across 46 countries and infected more than 60 people in the United States.

Most of the U.S. cases have occurred in travellers who were repatriated from China, where the virus originated.

But public health officials have also identified coronavirus cases in California, Washington and Oregon with no direct ties to the virus’ source in China, signalling a turning point in strategies needed to contain the disease in the United States.

U.S. health authorities say it means the respiratory disease that has infected nearly 80,000 people and killed more than 2,800 in China is no longer an imported phenomenon but has taken up residence in the United States. (Reuters)

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