Coronavirus: 34 firefighters and police officers quarantined for virus after visiting nursing home

The Life Care Centre has two confirmed cases in the facility

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Monday 02 March 2020 18:34
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An estimated 34 first responders have been put in a two-week quarantine for the coronavirus after responding to a Washington nursing facility.

The Life Care Centre in Kirkland, Washington, experienced an outbreak of coronavirus symptoms among the patients and staff.

Now 25 Kirkland firefighters, two police officers, and seven firefighters from the nearby town of Redmond are in quarantine after responding to aid calls over the last several days, KOMO News reports. 

Some of the emergency workers have self-quarantined themselves in their own homes after responding to the calls from the nursing home. Others are in in quarantine at the Station 13 firehouse.

Kirkland Fire said the quarantined firefighters has not prevented the group to maintain full staffing levels at the stations, KOMO News reports.

In Washington state 13 cases of the coronavirus are confirmed and two people have died from the fast-spreading disease. At least two cases have been confirmed at the Life Care Centre.

Public Health is now working to identify anyone who's come in contact with the 13 individuals, whether they be emergency workers or family members.

Governor Jay Inslee has also said the state is "stepping up" its response to the coronavirus outbreak by directing state agencies to use all necessary resources. A state of emergency was declared on Saturday.

"This number is expected to rise as more people are tested and results confirmed," the health department said in a news release.

There are 50 patients and staff from Life Care Centre getting tested for the coronavirus following the news of two cases in the facility.

But health officials are not just concerned with the nursing facility. There is a concern the virus was circulating the state for the last six weeks undetected, meaning hundreds of undiagnosed cases are possible.

Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre and the University of Washington said they had evidence the virus may have been circulating in the state for up to six weeks undetected.

Trevor Bedford, an associate professor who announced the preliminary findings on the virus in Washington state, said on Twitter late on Saturday that genetic similarities between the state's two cases show they may have descended from an earlier one.

"I believe we're facing an already substantial outbreak in Washington State that was not detected until now due to narrow case definition requiring direct travel to China," he said on Twitter.

Numbers continue to climb for cases in the US, with the first case confirmed in New York City on Monday. Globally, the virus has infected nearly 90,000 people and killed more than 3,000.

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