California health officials have detected what may be the first local transmission of the deadly COVID-19 virus in the US – with no known ties to other confirmed cases – as China reported the lowest number of new deaths in weeks.
Adding 29 fatalities to the nearly 2,800 already killed by the lethal pathogen, the latest figures from Chinese authorities mark a sharp decline in daily deaths, even as fears of the illness peak in the US, where the first suspected “community transmission” was reported late on Wednesday.
“The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] today confirmed a possible first case of person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 in California in the general public,” the California Department of Public Health said in a statement.
The individual had no known exposure to the virus through travel or close contact with a known infected individual.
Two other American patients who had been confirmed to have contracted the virus while in the US both came in contact with individuals who had recently visited China – where the outbreak was first observed – or those already known to have the virus, according to the CDC. The newest case in California, an individual from Solano County, has had no such close contacts.
The patient, who has yet to be identified, is now receiving treatment at a facility in Sacramento.
In a press conference earlier on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump assured that stringent measures were in place to prevent further spread of the illness, stating that “whatever happens, we’re totally prepared,” and that a full-blown outbreak in the country was not “inevitable.”
The president’s comments contrast with a recent statement from the CDC, which warned that the virus could cause “severe” disruptions to daily life in the US, adding that it was “not so much a question of if this will happen any more, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen.”
To date, 60 Americans have contracted the illness, among over 82,000 cases worldwide, the majority in mainland China. The virus has claimed more than 2,700 lives in total, so far none of them in the US.
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