A sixty-year old person in Wuhan became the first American citizen to die from the coronavirus, the U.S. Embassy said Saturday, as the epidemic continued to spread unabated in central China.
The patient, whose name has not been disclosed, died Thursday at Jinyintian Hospital in Wuhan, the embassy said.
“We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss,” the embassy said in a statement. “Out of the respect for the family’s privacy, we have no further comment.”
Chinese officials announced Saturday morning that the death toll climbed to 722 — the biggest daily jump so far — as infections nationwide reached more than 34,000. Before the U.S. citizen died Thursday, only China, Hong Kong and the Philippines had reported citizens dying from the disease.
It’s not clear why the recently deceased U.S. citizen was unable to evacuate Wuhan, where the State Department extracted roughly 350 citizens on two flights this week.
A handful of those Americans recently evacuated have shown signs of fever and are being tested and treated at Travis Air Force Base in California, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control spokesman. All returning Americans are being held in 14-day quarantine as soon as they land.
Japanese officials say there are 64 confirmed cases, including 13 Americans, onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship currently anchored off the coast of Japan. Hundreds of Americans are currently quarantined onboard.
U.S. authorities announced strict quarantine measures for travelers from China on Feb. 2. So far, 12 people in the United States have been reported infected.
President Trump tweeted Friday that he had spoken to Chinese leader Xi Jinping by phone and praised Xi as “strong, sharp and powerfully focused” in his response to the epidemic.
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