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04 Mar 2020 | 01:45 PM UTC

US: Los Angeles county (California state) declares coronavirus disease (COVID-19) emergency March 4 /update 16

Los Angeles county (California state) reports six new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), declares health emergency March 4; further spread of the virus expected over the near term

health
USA

Event

Los Angeles county (California state) confirmed six new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Wednesday, March 4, prompting officials to declare a local emergency. Of the six newly confirmed cases, three of the infected patients recently returned from northern Italy, two are family members who had close contact with someone outside of the county who tested positive for the virus, and one contracted the virus while interacting with infected travelers. As of Wednesday, there are seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Los Angeles county and 35 cases across the state of California.

Additionally, the cities of Pasadena and Long Beach declared local emergencies on Wednesday, though neither city has any confirmed cases of the virus.

Per the declaration, Los Angeles county will increase testing for individuals exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and will deploy technical assistance teams to temporary housing facilities.

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

Context

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.

Advice

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.