First American death due to coronavirus reported in China

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A U.S. citizen has died from the coronavirus in China, officials announced Saturday, in what is believed to be the first American death since the outbreak began in December.

“We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss,” a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said in a statement to The Hill. “Out of the respect for the family’s privacy, we have no further comment.”

The spokesman said the person was 60 years old and died on Thursday at the Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan. No other information was immediately available.

Officials have reported 86 more deaths in China from the virus, bringing the death toll to 722, with 34,546 infections confirmed in mainland China by Friday, according to the country’s National Health Commission.

Japan also announced that one of its citizens, a man in his 60s, had died from a suspected case of coronavirus at a hospital in Wuhan. The Japan Times reported that the man was hospitalized in late January with severe pneumonia. 

There are currently 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., with the World Health Organization saying this week that there were more than 200 cases in 24 countries outside China.

The U.S. in recent days has moved to evacuate hundreds of Americans from Wuhan amid the outbreak. On Friday, two flights from the city carrying about 300 U.S. citizens, family members and other passengers arrived in the U.S.

“As with the other recent evacuation flights, all passengers will be carefully screened and monitored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

More than 800 passengers in total have been evacuated from Wuhan, the administration said.

The State Department issued a travel advisory on Jan. 30 urging U.S. citizens not to travel to China amid the outbreak and suggesting that those already there leave.

A department spokesperson told The Hill on Saturday that officials “are working around the clock to inform U.S. travelers of the risks related to the novel coronavirus, to assist Americans in need, and to combat the spread of this outbreak.”

President Trump spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday about the coronavirus, the White House said, with Trump expressing “confidence in China’s strength and resilience in confronting the challenge of the 2019 novel” outbreak.

Trump described Xi in a string of tweets early Friday as “strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack” against the virus, predicting the outcome would be “very successful.”

Updated: 11:30 a.m.

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