First case of coronavirus confirmed in Massachusetts

“The risk to the general public remains low."

A Boston man returning from Wuhan, China has the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in Massachusetts, bringing the U.S. case count to eight, according to health officials. 

In a statement released Saturday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Boston Public Health Commission said they were notified by the Centers for Disease Control Friday night that the man had the virus.

Officials said the man, who is in his 20s and a student at the University of Massachusetts Boston, recently traveled to Wuhan, China, and landed at Logan International Airport Tuesday, the day before active screening started at that airport. He went to a medical clinic the next day, according to the Boston Globe. “He has been isolated since that time, and will remain isolated until cleared by public health officials,” the statement said. His few close contacts have been notified and are being monitored for signs of symptoms. 

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“We are grateful that this young man is recovering and sought medical attention immediately,’’ said Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel. “Massachusetts has been preparing for a possible case of this new coronavirus, and we were fortunate that astute clinicians took appropriate action quickly.”

“Right now, we are not asking Boston residents to do anything differently,” said BPHC Executive Director Rita Nieves. “The risk to the general public remains low. And we continue to be confident we are in a good position to respond to this developing situation.”

The coronavirus has resulted in thousands of confirmed infections in more than 20 countries, with more than 99 percent of cases in China. In the U.S., there are three people infected in California, two in Illinois, and one in Massachusetts, Washington State, and Arizona, according to health officials. 

On Friday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared the coronavirus a public health emergency, ordering any U.S. citizens returning from the center of the outbreak in China to be quarantined for two weeks as a precaution. Azar’s announcement followed the World Health Organization declaration Thursday that the coronavirus outbreak is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The CDC also reported the first case of person-to-person transmission in Illinois between household members. 

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Coronavirus symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and, in severe cases, pneumonia (fluid in the lungs). Information about how this novel coronavirus spreads is still limited, according to health officials. 

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