There have been at least 14 reported deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, in Washington state, with many of these connected to an outbreak at a nursing home in the Seattle area.
There was one death confirmed in California earlier this week. A cruise ship with over 3,000 people is now being held off the coast of San Francisco after it was confirmed that the 71-year-old man who died had been on a previous trip on the ship in mid-February.
After dozens of people on the Grand Princess ship developed symptoms of illness, samples were collected Thursday from 45 people, both passengers and crew, confirmed operating company Princess Cruises. The samples were sent for testing, with results expected Friday. Meanwhile, all guests have been quarantined in their rooms.
WHO director Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged in a Thursday news briefing for countries worldwide to take a “collective, coordinated” approach to tackling the virus.
“We are calling on every country to act with speed,” he said, adding he was “deeply concerned” about the number of additional countries reporting cases. “This is not a drill. This is not the time to give up. … This is a time for pulling out all the stops.”
The WHO repeated its calls for governments to educate the public on symptoms and ways to protect themselves, as well as to increase testing and train health workers.
As cases increase across the U.S., institutions and companies are taking extra precautions, with some canceling in-person events in an attempt to minimize virus spread.
The University of Washington announced Friday that it would hold classes remotely until the end of March amid a rise in cases around Seattle, including one “presumptive positive” case involving a staff member.
Some major corporate offices are telling employees to work from home, including Facebook, which did so in Seattle, London and Northern California’s Bay Area.
Big companies like Netflix, Apple, Amazon and others have pulled out of attending the annual tech conference South by Southwest in Austin next week amid fears of coronavirus’ spread.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s health and human services secretary, noted Wednesday that most people who contract the coronavirus have only mild symptoms.
Dr. Sonia Angell, the state’s public health director, suggested basic precautions to reduce people’s risk: Cover your mouth when you cough, wash your hands frequently and, if you don’t feel well, stay home. If you’re concerned about your own symptoms, you should call your health provider or county health officials before going to a hospital or doctor’s office.