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More Coronavirus Cases Linked To Biogen Meeting At Boston Hotel

BOSTON (CBS) - More presumptive positive coronavirus cases were linked Friday to a Biogen meeting in Boston last week. Brigham and Women's Hospital announced Friday afternoon that they were asked to help test people who were at the conference.

The Cambridge-based biotechnology company held a conference at the Marriott Long Wharf and at least eight people from that gathering have been infected, state and city health officials announced Friday. Of the eight, three are from Boston, one is from Wellesley and one other is from Norfolk County. Two are employees from Europe and the other is from Tennessee.

"As we heard yesterday, three travelers who visited Boston last week for the conference in the city, the Biogen conference, have been diagnosed with the coronavirus," said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. "That includes the Tennessee case announced by their health department yesterday that incorporated Massachusetts in that. None of these travelers are Boston residents. We now have new information that there have been three confirmed cases of coronavirus tracing back to the same Biogen meeting."

Officials said the three Boston residents are two women and a man, all in their 40's, and that two of them are showing symptoms of the virus.

"It was a leadership meeting and it was held at the Long Wharf Marriott here in Boston," said Chief of Health and Human Services for Boston Marty Martinez. "And (health officials) have been working with them to look at cleaning protocols, procedures so we can help them make sure they mitigate any risk to the space."

marriot long wharf boston
The Marriott Long Wharf hotel in Boston. (WBZ-TV)

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According to the Boston Business Journal, about 175 people were at that meeting. Biogen said Thursday it has directed any employee who attended the conference to work from home for two weeks.

An alert sent out from the Harvard School of Public Health said that the school was notified by Brigham and Women's Hospital that 60 people were being evaluated at the hospital for the coronavirus.

The hospital released a statement Friday afternoon: "The Massachusetts Department of Public Health asked Brigham and Women's Hospital to assist in testing individuals who attended the Biogen conference in Boston last week for COVID-19.  We have activated our central ambulatory screening and testing plan and will test patients outside of the hospital in the ambulance bay. Our Emergency Medicine colleagues will manage the testing, and individuals will return home to await results. We do not anticipate an influx of inpatients or any impact to hospital operations or normal patient activity."

Brigham testing
Several people are being tested for coronavirus at Brigham and Women's Hospital (Image credit James Healy)

The Mariott hotel released a statement Friday: "The hotel was informed by health authorities on Thursday afternoon of three confirmed COVID-19 cases involving individuals who attended a group meeting that took place between February 24 and 27. We are working closely with the appropriate public health authorities and are following their guidance. We continue to reinforce recommended measures on appropriate hygiene standards and to emphasize relevant health and safety measures. The wellbeing of our guests and associates is of paramount importance."

"The Marriott has had a protocol and deep cleaning process in place for about the past six weeks, so they were already pretty prepared," Martinez said.

Biogen has not yet released a statement in regards to the meeting.

Read: How Can I Prevent Coronavirus? Should I Wear A Mask? And Other Questions

The hotel is near several popular tourist sites in Boston, including Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market and the New England Aquarium.

As of Friday afternoon, overall there are now seven presumptive positive cases of coronavirus and one confirmed in Massachusetts, according to state health officials.

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