Health officials confirm 4th and 5th cases of coronavirus in Minnesota

The cases are in Olmsted and Ramsey counties.
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UPDATE 1:10 P.M.

Minnesota health officials have confirmed that there are now 5 presumptive cases of coronavirus in the state.

The news of a 5th COVID-19 from the Minnesota Department of Health came shortly after Olmsted County Public Health confirmed the 4th case, the first outside of the Twin Cities.

The 5th case was reported in Ramsey County, the second case from the east metro county.

In both instances, the patients have international travel history, with both currently recovering from home.

The Olmsted County case, a patient in their 50s, showed symptoms on Mar. 5 and sought testing on Mar. 9. They became symptomatic at work.

"While there is workplace exposure, we're not looking at thousands of people" who were within 6 feet of the patient for longer than 10 minutes, MDH said, noting the criteria used for COVID-19 exposure.

The Ramsey County case, a patient in their 30s, had symptoms from March 6 and sought care March 10.

"This patient is resting at home and they had no community contacts, only household contacts," the health department said.

The health department has also addressed concern raised over the patient in their 30s from Anoka County who is in critical condition despite having no underlying health concerns.

"In every situation there will be outliers. While we continue to say that our highest-risk group are those who are older and have underlying health conditions, we recognize that there will be cases in all ages and it is possible to see severe cases in all age," said Kris Ehresmann, who heads the Minnesota Department of Health's infectious disease division.

The Anoka County patient remains in a critical condition.

With the World Health Organization calling on nations to expand their testing procedures, the MDH said it tested almost 100 patients for COVID-19 symptoms on Tuesday.

Original story

Health officials in Olmsted County will announce Wednesday Minnesota's 4th presumptive case of coronavirus.

A press release from the county says the case will be confirmed by Graham Briggs, director of Olmsted County Public Health Services, on Wednesday afternoon.

It will be the fourth presumptive positive case in Minnesota and the first outside of the seven-county Twin Cities metro, with the first three found in Ramsey, Carver and Anoka counties.

More details will be released about the patient at a press conference.

Minnesota Department of Health officials are expected to provide an update on the statewide situation at 1 p.m., which could potentially see more cases announced.

The confirmation from Olmsted County came just minutes after the World Health Organization officially classed the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.

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The WHO is calling on the world's nations to take immediate efforts to arrested the spread and severity of the virus, saying it is currently seeing "alarming levels of inaction" in some countries.

"Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death," said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic.

"Even those countries with community transmission or large clusters can turn the tide on this coronavirus. Several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled."

It comes amid concern expressed in the U.S. that not enough testing is being done to identify the true extent of the virus and mitigate its spread.

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