Coronavirus: California monitoring more than 8,000 people as number of cases soar

Health officials stress risk to public remains 'very low' as state confirms first case of 'community spread' of virus

Alex Woodward
New York
Thursday 27 February 2020 15:23
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Coronavirus epidemic at 'decisive stage' says WHO

California governor Gavin Newsom says more than 8,000 people in the state are being monitored for coronavirus infections.

There are have been 33 confirmed cases of the flu-like respiratory illness in the state, including what is likely the first confirmed infection in a patient who was infected through "community spread" and didn't come into direct contact with another patient, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The governor confirmed that 8,400 California residents are being medically monitored for novel coronavirus COVID-19 in 49 local jurisdictions.

While more than 800 people have flown into the state via government-sanctioned evacuations following the outbreak in China, thousands of other passengers landed in California through traditional travel.

Officials also have told several school districts to prepare for potential outbreaks.

The governor said his administration is in "constant contact" with federal agencies as it responds to the virus.

"We're meeting this moment", he said. "We're not overreacting nor are we under-reacting. At the same time, [there is] no better resourced state in America to address this issue head-on."

Mr Newsom said the state has 200 testing kits on-hand and will be receiving more in the coming days. The current stock is "simply inadequate to do justice to the kind of testing that is required", he said.

CDC officials are not able to determine the source of the infection of a resident in Solano County after doctors confirmed that the patient did not have relevant travel history or contact with any known infected person.

It likely marks the first possible case of "community transmission" in the US. The patient is receiving care in Sacramento County.

Health officers are currently "in the field" to investigate whether people were exposed to the virus and helping them isolate themselves from the public, according to Dr Sonia Angell, California Department of Public Health Director and State Health Officer.

She said officials had anticipated community spread of the virus in its planning for "both the worst situation and the best situation, so we're ready for anything".

"This is a fluid situation right now and I want to emphasise the risk to the American public remains low", she said. "In the event that the risk changes, we will communicate with you. We will make everyone aware."

More than 80,000 people in 40 countries have been infected with the virus, which has killed roughly 2,700 people since the outbreak was reported in December.

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