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04 Mar 2020 | 08:45 PM UTC

US: Health emergency declared in California state March 4 /update 17

California declares a health emergency amid ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak March 4; at least 11 associated fatalities confirmed nationwide



The governor of California state, Gavin Newsom, declared a health emergency after the first coronavirus (COVID-19)-related death was confirmed in the state on Wednesday, March 4. Placer county health officials announced that the patient tested positive for the virus after returning from a cruise to Mexico in February and had underlying health conditions. At least 53 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in California as of March 4. Under the state of emergency, policies will be put in place to prevent price gouging, allow health care workers from out of state to assist at California health care facilities, and increase the number of labs testing for the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 80 cases have been confirmed across the US, along with 11 total associated fatalities. Cases have been reported in 13 states, with the highest numbers recorded in Washington and California. Further information can be found on the CDC website here.

Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected over the near term.


The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). 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 numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.

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.


To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.