Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Saudi Arabia suspends entry for pilgrims over coronavirus as U.S. sees first case of community transmission

AFP reports:

Saudi Arabia on Thursday suspended visas for pilgrims wishing to visit Mecca over coronavirus fears, the foreign ministry said.

The government is “suspending entry to the Kingdom for the purpose of Umrah and visiting the Prophet’s Mosque temporarily”, the foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken at any time of year.

Umrah attracts tens of thousands of devout Muslims from all over the globe each month.

The foreign ministry said it was also suspending visas for tourists visiting from countries where the new virus is a “danger”.

Even as the number of fresh cases declines at the epicentre of the disease in China, there has been a sudden increase in parts of Asia, Europe and the Middle East. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports:

A Northern California woman has contracted the coronavirus without traveling to regions hit by the outbreak or coming into contact with anyone known to have the infection, the first sign the disease may be spreading within a U.S. community, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday night.

The woman wasn’t tested for the disease for days, despite an immediate request to the CDC, because she didn’t meet the strict criteria for the test, according UC Davis Medical Center, where she is being treated. The CDC could not immediately be reached for comment. But federal health officials have said clinicians always have discretion to order the test for people who do not meet the criteria.

The state of California is calling the case, first reported by The Washington Post, its first instance of community transmission.

There are indications other hospitals could be involved in the case. Kris Concepcion, fire chief and acting public information officer in Vacaville, Calif., said county officials had issued a directive not to transport any new patients to two local hospitals — NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville and NorthBay Medical Center in nearby Fairfield. Concepcion declined to say why those orders had been given.

Steve Huddleston, vice president of public affairs at NorthBay Healthcare, declined to comment. He said the hospital was directing all inquiries to the California Department of Public Health.

The person briefed on the situation said the ban on new patients lasted only through Wednesday night.

The two hospitals are in Solano County, home to Travis Air Force Base, where hundreds of Americans repatriated from China and others brought home from the Diamond Princess cruise ship have been kept in quarantine. Many of them have been released. [Continue reading…]

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