The first death from the novel coronavirus has been confirmed on US soil, in Washington state, health officials said Saturday, after a handful of cases of unknown origin were detected, indicating the disease was spreading in the country.
The fatality occurred in King county, the most populous in the state and home to Seattle, a city of more than 700,000 people, officials in the state told AFP. The victim was not immediately identified.
“It is a sad day in our state as we learn that a Washingtonian has died from COVID-19. Our hearts go out to his family and friends,” Washington state Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement.
US President Donald Trump said he would address the media about the “latest coronavirus developments” at about 1:30 pm (1830 GMT).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60 people are infected with the disease in the United States — the majority of them passengers from the stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship.
An American citizen died of the new coronavirus in early February at the Chinese epicenter of the global outbreak, the city of Wuhan, the US embassy confirmed at the time.
Worldwide, the virus has hit 59 countries across the globe, with more than 2,900 people killed and over 85,000 infected since it was first detected at an animal market in Wuhan late last year.
Authorities in Washington state set a press conference for 1:00 pm Pacific time (2100 GMT).
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