Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Washington state man becomes first U.S. coronavirus fatality

A Washington state man in his 50s with underlying health issues became the United States' first fatality from the coronavirus, officials said on Saturday, as the administration stepped up efforts to combat the spread of the global outbreak. The patient, who was chronically ill prior to contracting COVID-19, died at EvergreenHealth Hospital in Kirkland, near Seattle, and officials are unsure how he was exposed to the virus, said Jeffrey Duchin, head of the Washington health department's communicable disease unit.

FDA to allow some labs to use coronavirus tests prior to review

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Saturday said it will allow some laboratories to immediately use tests they have developed and validated to achieve more rapid testing capacity for the coronavirus in the country. The policy cleared the way for state public health labs to immediately begin local testing and possibly get results within hours, which public health officials say will be critical to a rapid response to the fast-spreading virus that originated in China.

Schools, universities to stay shut as coronavirus death toll rises

Schools and universities will stay closed for a second consecutive week in three northern Italian regions in an effort to contain Europe's worst outbreak of coronavirus, dashing any hopes of a swift return to normality. The decision was taken as the death toll from the contagion rose by eight during the day to 29, while the total number of cases jumped by 240 to 1,128 -- the vast majority in the wealthy regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna.

As coronavirus slams , paralysis and anxiety spread

At the epicenter of Europe's worst outbreak of coronavirus to date, daily lives have taken on an eerie, aimless calm. It's at night that the worry takes over. "You can hear the ambulances coming and going, and maybe they're going to sick people who have nothing to do with the coronavirus but it worries you just the same," said Davide Benelli from his home in Casalpusterlengo, a town of around 15,000 in 's quarantined "red zone" where the disease broke out a week ago.

Story continues

Iran calls on people to stay at home as death toll rises to 43

Deaths in Iran from coronavirus have hit 43, the highest number outside China, and the total number of infected people has risen to 593, an Iranian health official said on Saturday. The country is at the epicenter of the outbreak in the region, with several countries in the Middle East reporting cases of the coronavirus stemming from Iran.

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Greece confirms three new cases of coronavirus, brings total to seven

Greece has confirmed three new cases of coronavirus, the Health Ministry said on Saturday, bringing the total number of coronavirus infections in the country to seven. The latest cases involve a woman and a man, who are related to previously confirmed cases in Greece, and a man who had recently traveled to , Europe's worst-hit country by the virus, the ministry said.

Mainland China reports 573 new coronavirus cases on Feb. 29

Mainland China reported 573 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Feb. 29, up from 427 the previous day and the highest daily increase in a week, the country's health authority said on Sunday. The new cases were concentrated in Wuhan, the city where the virus is believed to have originated. Wuhan identified 565 new infections on Saturday, amounting to nearly 99% of the total.

Brazil confirms second case of new coronavirus: Health Ministry

Brazil's Health Ministry on Saturday confirmed the country's second case of the fast-spreading new coronavirus, diagnosed in a 32-year-old patient in São Paulo who had recently visited and arrived on Thursday. The man returned to São Paulo accompanied by his wife and wore a mask during the flight from Milan, according to additional information on the case released by the ministry after a brief statement earlier.

Gatherings banned, travel restricted as coronavirus cases grow worldwide

Leaders in Europe, the Middle East and the Americas rolled out bans on big gatherings, and stricter travel restrictions as cases of the new coronavirus spread around the world. The United States on Saturday reported its first death from the disease, a Washington state man in his 50s. Two of the state's three cases have links to a nursing home, state officials said, where dozens of residents have symptoms of the disease.

Ireland confirms first case of coronavirus

Health authorities in Ireland on Saturday confirmed the country's first case of coronavirus and said it was associated with travel from an affected area in northern . The patient, a man in the eastern part of the country, is receiving appropriate medical care, Ireland's health department said in a statement.

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