Trail Blazers McCollum takes break from autographs amid virus fears

Los Angeles (AFP) –


National Basketball Association star CJ McCollum says he's taking a break from signing autographs for fans due to fears surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

The 28-year-old Portland Trail Blazers guard made the announcement in a tweet on Saturday.

"The Corona Virus has officially hit Oregon .... I am officially taking a break from signing autographs until further notice," the six-foot-three (1.9 metre) 190 pound (86kg) American said.

He also posted tips on preventing the spread of the virus as recommended by health experts, such as frequent hand-washing.

Oregon State has recorded one presumptive case of coronavirus, but health officials are declining to release specific details such as the name of the person.

A man in his 50s who passed away Saturday in Washington State is the first person to die from the illness in the United States. A second man, in his 70s, also died on Saturday near Seattle.

Sporting events in Asia and Europe recently have been cancelled or postponed due to the outbreak, which has killed nearly 3,000 people worldwide, the vast majority in mainland China. People in more than 60 countries are now infected, with the virus reaching every continent except Antarctica.

The NBA, NHL and MLB have all said they are monitoring developments and consulting with health officials.

The World Health Organization said Sunday that the virus appears to particularly hit those over the age of 60 and people already weakened by other illness.

In China, the number of reported new cases has gradually been declining, especially outside Hubei province in central China, where the virus emerged late last year.