Washington state declares state of emergency over COVID-19 outbreak


File photo: AP

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) -- Governor Jay Inslee of the U.S. State of Washington Saturday declared a state of emergency after the state reported the first death in connection with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States.

Inslee said the local emergency declaration seeks to coordinate state agencies and departments to utilize all possible resources to respond to the COVID-19 epidemic and assist affected communities in their recovery from the disease.

"This is a time to take common-sense, proactive measures to ensure the health and safety of those who live in Washington state," he said.

The declaration came after a person has died from the COVID-19 in King County, Washington, the first death caused by the disease in the United States. It is not known how the patient was infected with the virus.

With the emergency measure, Inslee is able to deploy, if necessary, the Washington National Guard to combat the infectious disease.

Washington health officials announced two new cases of the COVID-19 in the state Friday night. The two patients include a student at Jackson High School in Mill Creek and a King County woman in her 50s, who recently traveled to Daegu, South Korea.

Washington reported the first COVID-19 case of the United States last month after a man in his 30s from Snohomish County tested positive for COVID-19 following his return from China's central city of Wuhan.

More cases of the coronavirus disease of unknown origin have been reported in U.S. western states, triggering concern about local person-to-person spread of the infectious disease.

California reported a second COVID-19 case of unknown origin in the United States on Friday, while Oregon Health Authority said an elementary school employee tested coronavirus positive, though the person had no travel history nor close contact with infected individuals. The Oregon patient is the state's first "presumptive" COVID-19 case ever reported.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday that the United States currently has 22 confirmed COVID-19 cases, while data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that there have been three cases of person-to-person transmission.

There are also 47 infected people who evacuated from either Wuhan city or the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan.