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11 Confirmed Cases Of Coronavirus In U.S.; 1st Death Outside China In Philippines

Updated at 1:15 a.m. ET Monday

Health officials confirmed two new cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. Sunday evening in San Benito County, Calif., south of San Jose. The two are husband and wife, both 57.

The county's Health and Human Services agency said in a statement that the husband recently traveled from Wuhan, China, though his wife did not, making this the second person-to-person transmission of the virus in the U.S. The county said both patients have not left their home since the husband's return from China.

Earlier Sunday health officials confirmed another U.S. case of the newly identified strain of the coronavirus, in a woman in Santa Clara County, Calif.

She is from Wuhan, China, and traveled to the San Francisco Bay Area to visit family on Jan. 23. She developed symptoms and remained at home except for seeking medical care twice.

It's the second case in Santa Clara County — though health officials say there has been no person-to-person spread of the virus detected in the county.

"I understand that people are concerned, but based on what we know today, the risk to general public remains low," Dr. Sara Cody of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department said in a statement.

She said the woman has been regularly monitored and was never sick enough to be hospitalized. Family members have also self-isolated and have not left the home.

The new California cases bring the total in the U.S. to 11.

Health officials in China, meanwhile, said on Monday morning local time that total cases had exceeded 17,000, with nearly 3,000 new cases in 24 hours, and 361 people have now died on the mainland from the virus.

Earlier on Sunday, Philippines health officials said a 44-year-old man had died in the Philippines from the newly identified strain of coronavirus, marking the first known death outside of China from the fast-spreading disease.

The man, a resident of Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, died Saturday in a hospital after developing "severe pneumonia due to viral and bacterial infections," according to health officials. They note that the man appeared to be recovering in recent days before deteriorating in his last 24 hours.

The disease has spread rapidly from Wuhan's Hubei province, since being first reported in December, mostly within mainland China.

More than 170 cases have been reported in more than 20 countries, prompting the World Health Organization on Thursday to declare a global health emergency.

In the U.S., the eighth case of the virus was announced on Saturday.

The infection was confirmed in a Boston man in his 20s who had recently traveled to Wuhan, China, according to Massachusetts state health officials.

He sought medical care soon after his return to the U.S. and has been in isolation, health officials said. His "few close contacts have been identified and are being monitored for any sign of symptoms," the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said in a statement.

On Friday, the Trump administration declared a public health emergency. Despite the declaration, U.S. health officials have emphasized that at this time, the overall risk to Americans is low and that the threat of flu remains much greater.

Still, the U.S. is working to ensure the coronavirus does not gain a foothold in the country. The State Department is warning Americans not to travel to China and urging those already there to leave.

More than a dozen airlines are suspending flights to and from China's mainland. This includes major U.S. carriers such as American Airlines, Delta and United.

Additionally, the Trump administration announcedthat beginning Sunday, all foreign nationals who have traveled in China within the past 14 days will be denied entry into the U.S. Exceptions will be made for permanent residents and immediate family of U.S. citizens.

Passengers on incoming flights from China are being directed to 11 specific U.S. airports for health screenings. Citizens returning from Hubei province will be subjected to up to two weeks of mandatory quarantine.

During a visit Monday to Uzbekistan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. plans "a handful more flights" to bring Americans home from Hubei province, according to Reuters.

An employee wears a protective mask as he sits in an Apple store after it shut Saturday in Beijing. Apple announced it was closing all 42 of its stores in mainland China until Feb. 10 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
Getty Images
An employee wears a protective mask as he sits in an Apple store after it shut Saturday in Beijing. Apple announced it was closing all 42 of its stores in mainland China until Feb. 10 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

"We might be bringing citizens home from other countries as well," Pompeo said during a briefing in the capital, Tashkent. "In addition we might bring in some medical supplies."

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine on nearly 200 Americans evacuated from Wuhan. The evacuees are being housed at the March Air Reserve Base in California.

"While we recognize this is an unprecedented action, we are facing an unprecedented public health threat," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC. "And this is one of the tools in our toolbox to mitigate the potential impact of this novel virus on the United States."

Because the strain of the disease is new, much remains unknown. So far, experts say, it seems less deadly than SARS, another coronavirus.

To reduce the risk of the novel coronavirus spread, the WHO is encouraging old-fashioned techniques, includinggood hand-washing, avoiding close contact with those who have fever or cough, and sneezing into a crooked elbow or a tissue.

Meanwhile, Apple announced Saturday that it is temporarily closing all of its stores in China.

"Out of an abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts, we're closing all our corporate offices, stores and contact centers in mainland China through February 9," the company said in a statement.

Apple operates more than 40 stores in mainland China.

Most Apple products are made in China in factories owned and operated by outside contractors, including the electronics giant Foxconn.

For now, the Taiwan-based Foxconn says it won't be changing its production timeline, but in a Jan. 28 earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company is working on backup plans to minimize any potential supply disruptions.

With its announcement on Saturday, Apple joins a growing list of major American companies — including Starbucks, McDonald's and KFC — in suspending business in China.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Amy Held is an editor on the newscast unit. She regularly reports breaking news on air and online.
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