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Number of virus cases in Virginia climbs to 5

RICHMOND — The Virginia Department of Health said Monday that three more people in the state have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus, increasing the state’s known cases of COVID-19 to five.

Late Monday, the department announced two new cases in Spotsylvania County and the city of Fairfax, after announcing a case in Arlington County earlier in the day.

The Arlington resident, who is in their 60s, recently returned from international travel and is recovering, according to the Department of Health. Upon returning to the U.S., the patient developed a fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The Washington Business Journal reported Monday that JBG Smith Properties said an employee of one of its Crystal City tenants in Arlington had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Virginia’s first two presumptive positive cases, announced over the weekend, involve a city of Fairfax resident in his 80s who had been on a Nile River cruise and a Marine stationed at Quantico. Like the Arlington resident, they were exposed to the coronavirus while traveling abroad, the Department of Health said.

The new Fairfax case announced late Monday involves the wife of the Fairfax resident already diagnosed. She traveled on the same Nile River cruise as her husband, the Virginia Department of Health said.

“On March 5, when her husband was tested, she was asked to self-quarantine, stay home and avoid contact with others and has been compliant,” the department said in a statement. “When she developed minor respiratory illness symptoms, the Health Department determined that testing was warranted, and specimens were sent to the Virginia state laboratory on March 8. The resident is currently doing well but was hospitalized while testing was completed.”

The Spotsylvania case involves a patient in their 50s who sought medical attention after developing fever, a cough and shortness of breath. The patient is in stable condition, according to the Department of Health.

A presumptive positive case means that a public health laboratory has received a positive test result, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to confirm it.

Monday’s announcement comes as about 110,000 cases have been confirmed globally, with more than 3,800 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

In the U.S., there are now more than 400 cases spread over 34 states and the District of Columbia, according to the CDC. Nineteen people in the U.S. have died of the virus.

The Virginia Department of Health said the risk to the general public remains low.

“It’s fair to say that as the trajectory of the outbreak continues, many people in the United States will — at some point in time, either this year or next — be exposed to this virus, and there’s a good chance many will become sick,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the CDC’s director for immunization and respiratory diseases, on a press call Monday.

“We do not expect most people to develop serious illness,” Messonnier said.

Last week, the CDC updated guidance for people who are at a higher risk of developing a serious illness from COVID-19.

Messonnier said that, according to analysis of the progression of the disease in China, it is believed that 15% to 20% of people who become infected become seriously ill. Those who are age 60 and older and those with chronic health conditions are at greater risk of serious illness. Those at greatest risk are people in their 80s with serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease.

The CDC recommends that those at higher risk avoid close contact with those who are sick and touching “high-touch” surfaces, and have food, supplies and medication in the house in case there is a need to stay home. Anyone who could be responsible for caring for someone at high risk should help that person stock up and come up with a plan for the person’s care should the caregiver become ill.

The federal government also recommends that those at great risk defer cruise ship travel and avoid nonessential travel.

To prevent spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends frequent hand-washing; avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth; and covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve.


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