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California’s Santa Clara County has confirmed that two patients infected with the novel coronavirus, had died earlier than the first reported fatality from the disease in the US.

According to a statement issued by the county’s Emergency Operations Center, the Medical Examiner-Coroner performed autopsies on two individuals who died at home on February 6 and February 17, and received testing results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which showed both were positive for COVID-19, reports Xinhua news agency.

Initially, the country’s first COVID-19 death was thought to have occurred on February 29 in Kirkland, Washington state.

The statement indicated that the fatal virus might have spread in the country weeks earlier than previously thought.

“As the Medical Examiner-Coroner continues to carefully investigate deaths throughout the county, we anticipate additional deaths from COVID-19 will be identified,” the statement said.

There are nearly 2,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Santa Clara County.

The US continues to be the worst affected, with 841,556 cases and 46,688 deaths, the highest tallies in the world.

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