Washington state’s coronavirus outbreak that claimed a life over the weekend suggests that the bug has been spreading there for nearly six weeks, according to experts.
Trevor Bedford, an associate professor at the University of Washington, said that one of the state’s recent cases appears to be linked to a Snohomish County man who was identified Jan. 19 as the country’s first coronavirus patient, the New York Times reported.
Bedford and a research team found similarities while comparing the genetic sequence of the two samples that indicated the recent case had been descended from the other, suggesting that there has been community spread throughout the region, the outlet reported.
“I believe we’re facing an already substantial outbreak in Washington State that was not detected until now due to narrow case definition requiring direct travel to China,” Bedford tweeted.
His findings come after officials confirmed a patient who died at a Seattle-area hospital was the first coronavirus death in the US.
There were also two presumptive cases in the same suburb linked to a longterm care facility, Life Care Center of Kirkland.
“In addition, over 50 individuals associated with Life Care are reportedly ill with respiratory symptoms or hospitalized with pneumonia or other respiratory conditions of unknown cause and are being tested for COVID-19,” Seattle and King County officials said.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday that there have been 22 coronavirus cases detected across the country through the public health system.
Meanwhile, there have been more than 86,000 people infected across the world and at least 2,900 deaths.
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