The pastor of a historic Georgetown Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. has become the first confirmed case of coronavirus in the district, and in an alarming development officials are now reporting that the church leader shook the hands of hundreds of worshippers during recent services.
Officials are now asking all worshippers who visited Christ Church Georgetown either on February 24 or between February 28 and March to self-quarantine for two weeks.
Pastor Tim Cole, who is in his 50s, undertook a coronavirus test last week and was confirmed as positive for the virus on Saturday.
Confirmation of the pastor's condition led to Christ Church Georgetown cancelling its services on Sunday, and the church has also said services will be closed at the church indefinitely until it becomes safe to gather congregants again.
In an email to congregants, Rev. Cole wrote: "First, I want to assure you that I will be OK. I am receiving excellent care and am in good spirits under the circumstances. I will remain quarantined for the next 14 days as will the rest of my family."
Anyone who has visited Christ Church Georgetown recently should self quarantine for 14 days from the last day of their visit, according to Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
There have also been a small number of cases in the surrounding regions that have tested positive for coronavirus, however, they are only being labelled as "presumptive positive" at the moment until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) confirms.
The other cases include two in Washington D.C, two in Fairfax County in Virginia, and three in Montgomery County in Maryland.
Reports have confirmed that all those cases in Fairfax and Montgomery had recently travelled on a Nile River cruise, which has since been quarantined due to an outbreak of the coronavirus onboard.