The United States has reported four new apparent cases of the novel coronavirus, raising concerns that it is spreading through West Coast communities.
Authorities said three of the cases – an older Northern California woman with chronic health conditions, a high school student in Everett, Washington, and an employee at a Portland, Oregon-area school – had not recently traveled overseas or had any known close contact with a traveler or an infected person.
In addition, Washington health officials said a woman in her 50s in King County tested positive for the virus after traveling to Daegu, South Korea, the site of a major coronavirus outbreak. She was being treated in home isolation.
Both cases in Washington were treated as “presumptive positives,” meaning they had not been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The emergence of the San Jose, California, patient “indicates that there is evidence of community transmission but the extent is still not clear,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer for Santa Clara County and Director of the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department.
“This case does signal to us that it’s now time to shift how we respond to the novel coronavirus,” she said.
The coronavirus outbreak had infected more than 84,000 people and killed nearly 3,000 people globally as of Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, China, where the outbreak began in December, has seen a slowdown in new infections and on Saturday morning reported 427 new cases over the past 24 hours along with 47 additional deaths.
U.S. government issued an advisory to Americans asking them to reconsider their travel to Italy due to the spread of a new virus.