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08 Feb 2020 | 05:01 AM UTC

China: US citizen dies of coronavirus in Wuhan (Hubei province) February 6 /update 32

US citizen becomes the first confirmed victim of non-Chinese nationality in Wuhan (Hubei province) February 6; further spread of the disease expected

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Event

A US embassy spokesman announced on Saturday, February 8, that a US citizen died in Wuhan (Hubei province) on Thursday, February 6, due to the ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The victim is the first non-Chinese citizen to die from the coronavirus.

The first casualty outside China was reported in the Philippines on February 1. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed at least 34,598 cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) nationwide as of Saturday, February 8. The WHO also reported that at least 723 people have died from the virus. Cases of nCoV have been reported in 31 provinces, including municipalities and autonomous regions, across China.

Significant transportation and business disruptions are ongoing throughout China as part of measures to contain the outbreak, as cases have been confirmed in every region. Transportation in Wuhan remains severely restricted with flights, trains, and other public transport services affected.

Further spread of the illness is to be expected over the near term.

Context

The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan. Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in 25 countries worldwide besides China, as well as in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak is a "public health emergency of international concern."

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Individuals in China are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:

  • Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
  • Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
  • Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask
  • Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
  • Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spreading the disease.