Six people have died from novel coronavirus (nCoV) infections in the United States as of March 2, with over a hundred cases registered nationwide. All of the deaths occurred in Washington State, having been linked to patients in a nursing home in Kirkland.
According to Washington’s state health officer, Dr Kathy Lofy, 14 cases were reported in King County and four more cases in Snohomish County, while another 29 cases are still awaiting test results. Washington’s public health laboratory is capable of testing about 200 suspected cases a day.
Washington communities affected
“Unfortunately, we are starting to find more COVID-19 cases here in Washington that appear to be acquired locally here in Washington. We now know that the virus is actively spreading in some communities,” Lofy said.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that there are no current plans to shut down schools. “At this time, we are not recommending widespread school closures or cancellation of activities at schools. If there is a positive case at a school, we will be working [to] provide guidance,” said the CDC.
Calls for increased efforts
US President Donald Trump has asked top pharmaceutical companies to speed up work on developing a vaccine during a meeting with the companies at the White House on March 1.
The meeting was also attended by Vice President Mike Pence who is in charge of the coronavirus task force.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged countries to increase measures in containing the virus after the global death toll surpassed 3,000. “Containment of COVID-19 is feasible and must remain the top priority for all countries,” said WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a briefing on March 2. “Each country must have its own approach but it must start with containment,” he added.
According to the WHO, out of the 62 countries which have registered cases of the coronavirus, 38 of them had fewer than ten confirmed cases. “Around eight countries have not reported new cases for two weeks and have been able to contain the outbreak,” Ghebreyesus said.