US reports first coronavirus death

The United States has reported first death from novel coronavirus on its soil, health officials said.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said, “In today’s briefing on the #coronavirus @realDonaldTrump cautioned the media & politicians from inciting panic. Risk to Americans remains low because this Admin implemented aggressive & early precautions. The health & safety of everyone in the U.S. remains @POTUS top priority.”

The White House in a statement said, “The Trump Administration took early action on coronavirus—a choice that bought time and saved lives.”

“President Trump has expanded travel restrictions on Iran. He has also upgraded travel advisories to Level 4, urging Americans to not travel to areas in Italy and South Korea most affected by the coronavirus,” it said.

“This team has been working seamlessly with health officials at the state and local level,” it added.

China reported 35 more deaths and 573 new confirmed cases, sources said.

In Italy, the number of cases of the new coronavirus has exceeded 1,000, the health ministry said. 

WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a tweet said, “On 28 February, @WHO raised the risk assessment for the #COVID19 outbreak to “very high” globally, based on the spread of the new #coronavirus & countries’ capacity to respond. The risk within #China remained unchanged as “very high.”

He further wrote, “The global #COVID19 risk is very high for following reasons (1): -increase of international spread of cases -large clusters of cases currently reported outside -limited testing capacity in some countries -potential medical supply shortages (2): -difficulty in identifying cases due to non-specific symptoms & the potential of undetected transmission -potential for major impact on healthcare systems in some affected & potentially affected countries.”

In India, Preeti Sudan, Secretary (HFW) chaired a video conference with Health Secretaries from States/UTs along with senior officials of National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Airport Public Health Officers (APHOs) to review their preparedness for prevention and management of COVID-19 on Saturday. Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan is reviewing the status, actions taken and preparedness of States/UTs every day.

Secretary (HFW) stated that while various precautionary measures have been undertaken in close coordination with the concerned ministries at the central level and the States/UTs, with the evolving global scenario, especially in countries such as Iran, Italy and South Korea, there is a need for States/UTs to maintain high vigil and be alert with respect to the protocols for community surveillance, and screening at the airports and check-posts. She underscored the importance of sturdy and effective community surveillance measures. In addition, she also advised States/UTs to ensure that necessary protocols for collection and testing of blood samples is followed.

States/UTs have been again advised to provide the requisite manpower to strengthen the APHOs at the airports, and at the check-posts. States/UTs were also urged to ensure that all necessary Personal Protective equipment (PPE), masks, etc., are in adequate supply, and adequate isolation wards are kept in readiness. Secretary (HFW) also urged them to enhance awareness in the community on the preventive measures and also popularise the state control room numbers.