Coronavirus death toll in Washington state climbs to 9

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The number of coronavirus cases diagnosed in Washington state rose on Tuesday to 27, including nine deaths, up from 18 cases and six deaths a day earlier, state health authorities reported, in the largest US outbreak to emerge from local transmission.

The deaths - eight in King County and one in neighboring Snohomish County - mark the first fatalities documented in the United States from a respiratory illness that has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide, mostly in China, where the epidemic originated in December.

All 27 confirmed cases in Washington are clustered in two adjacent Puget Sound counties in the greater Seattle area, making it the largest concentration detected to date by the US public health system.

Several of those who died had been residents of a long-term nursing care facility in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland called LifeCare, according to information furnished by the Seattle & King County Public Health agency.

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists 108 confirmed and presumed cases of coronavirus in at least a dozen states, nearly half of them patients who were repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise liner that had been quarantined in Japan.

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said his administration may take further steps to address travel from the United States to areas with high rates of coronavirus, but said officials were not weighing any restrictions on domestic travel.

Trump, speaking to reporters ahead of a visit with US health researchers to discuss the virus outbreak, said he was considering taking action regarding travel to virus “hot spots” but gave no other details.

“We’ve been very stringent, but we’re now looking at other countries that have been badly affected, and we’re thinking of doing something,” Trump said, adding: “We don’t want to do that, but we’re looking at other countries.”

Trump said his administration was eyeing Italy, South Korea and Japan “very closely, and we’ll make the right determination at the right time.”

Asked what other countries his administration was considering targeting, Trump declined to say but added: “They are the hot spots right now.”


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