First coronavirus death outside China reported in the Philippines, health officials say

Health officials in the Philippines announced the death Sunday of a patient who had been diagnosed with the 2019 novel coronavirus, marking the first death attributed to the virus outside of China.

Health officials previously said a 44-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman had been admitted to a hospital in Manila and tested positive for the coronavirus. The pair had arrived in the Philippines from Hong Kong on Jan. 21. Both are from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the viral outbreak, health officials said.

Authorities said the 44-year-old man, whose name was not released, died Saturday after a rapid deterioration in his condition over 24 hours. His 38-year-old companion remained in isolation Sunday.

Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque said that as of Sunday, officials had yet to field reports of human-to-human transmission of the virus in the country.

The Philippine government has announced plans to implement a temporary travel ban for people coming from China, Macao and Hong Kong. The U.S., Japan, Singapore and Australia have imposed similar restrictions despite criticism from China and an assessment from the World Health Organization that they were unnecessarily hurting trade and travel.

As of Sunday morning, more than 14,500 people have been diagnosed globally as having the coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization. In China, 304 people have died of the viral infection, the health agency reported.

Eight cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the United States since the virus was first detected last month in Wuhan.

Health officials in Massachusetts said Friday that a Boston man in his 20s had been diagnosed with the viral infection after he returned from a trip to Wuhan. Cases have also been confirmed in Illinois, Arizona, California and Washington, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last week, the WHO declared coronavirus a global health emergency and officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended travelers “avoid all nonessential travel to China.”

China has been largely praised for a swift and effective response to the outbreak, although questions have been raised about the police suppression of what were early on considered mere rumors — a reflection of the one-party Communist state’s determination to maintain a monopoly on information in spite of smartphones and social media.

Officials recommend that any people who have recently traveled to Wuhan and subsequently experienced flu-like symptoms -- including fever, coughing, shortness of breath or a sore throat -- contact their health care providers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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