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California confirms second case of coronavirus with unknown origin

Health authorities in California have confirmed a second coronavirus case in a person who had no previous connection to anyone else with the disease.

According to Santa Clara County officials, the person is an adult woman with chronic health conditions who has no known history of travel to countries hit by the outbreak. The Washington Post reported that she is 65 years old.

Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s health officer, said the county was contacted by the woman’s infectious disease physician on Wednesday night to request testing, which was conducted at the county’s public health lab.

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“This new case indicates that there is evidence of community transmission, but the extent is still not clear,” Cody said in a statement. “I understand this may be concerning to hear, but this is what we have been preparing for. Now we need to start taking additional actions to slow down the spread of the disease.”

The county is tracking who had contact with the woman while she was contagious.

“This case does signal to us that it’s now time to shift how we respond to the novel coronavirus,” Cody said during a press conference. “The public health measures we’ve taken so far, isolation, quarantine, contact tracing and travel restrictions have helped to slow the spread of disease ... but now we need to add other public health tools to the mix.”

This new case would mark the second instance of so-called community spread of the virus in completely different communities.

Earlier this week, authorities confirmed a woman in a separate part of the state tested positive for coronavirus without having any previous connection to anyone else with the disease.

On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) increased its coronavirus risk assessment to "very high" but said it doesn’t rise to the level of a global pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has come under fire for faulty diagnostic tests that have prevented states from identifying potential patients with the disease, known as Covid-19. The agency on Friday said it was providing states with additional test kits to speed up the process.