Los Angeles, United States:
Officials in northwest Washington state raised concerns about reports by people organizing "COVID-19 parties" to spread the virus on Wednesday.
"Gathering in groups amid this pandemic can be incredibly dangerous, increasing the risk of hospitalization and even death," warned John Wiesman, the state's health minister.
"In addition, it is not known whether people who recover from COVID-19 have long-term protection," he said.
"We still don't know much about this virus, including long-term health problems that can arise after infection."
Wiesman's comments came after officials in Walla Walla County, 420 kilometers southeast of Seattle, reported that some of the region's nearly 100 cases in the region appeared to have been deliberately distributed or contracted to so-called "COVID-19 parties". ""
The aim of these meetings is to ensure that non-infected people mingle with an infected person to catch the virus.
"This type of unnecessary behavior can lead to an avoidable increase in cases that further slows our state's ability to gradually reopen," said Wiesman.
As of Wednesday, 94 cases of coronavirus and one death were reported in the Walla Walla district.
Meghan DeBolt, health director at Walla Walla, said the contact tracking showed that some of the infected had attended parties to get the virus.
"We don't know when it happens. It's because we hear about cases," she told the Walla Walla Union bulletin. "We ask for contacts and there are 25 people because: & # 39; We were at a COVID party. & # 39;"
She said such behavior was irresponsible and in a Facebook message asked residents to take reasonable physical and social distance measures to prevent community transmission.
"We need to use this time to use common sense and be smart as we move through this pandemic so we can start to reopen our community," she said.
"COVID-19 parties: not part of the solution," she added.
So far, there has been only one other report of a coronavirus party in the United States.
In March, Kentucky governor Andy Beshear announced that a person had become infected with the virus after attending a COVID-19 party.
The United States is the most affected country by the pandemic, with more than 1.2 million cases and 73,095 deaths.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)