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UMass Boston Student Becomes First Case Of Coronavirus In Massachusetts

BOSTON (CBS) -- A man in his 20s has the first case of coronavirus in Massachusetts, the Boston Public Health Commission announced Saturday. The man attends UMass Boston and lives in the city. He returned from Wuhan, China on Jan. 28 through Logan Airport.

"The man recently traveled to Wuhan, China, and sought medical care soon after his return to Massachusetts. He has been isolated since that time and will continue to remain isolated until cleared by public health officials. His few close contacts have been identified and are being monitored for any sign of symptoms," said the BPHC.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the BPHC and the Mass. Department of Public Health about the positive test results late Friday. This case is the eighth in the country.

A nationwide public health emergency was also declared Friday.

The man just had a running nose at first, but sought medical attention the day after when he felt worse.

"We are grateful for him seeking medical attention immediately," said Dr. Monica Bharel, the Boston Public Health Commissioner.

He is being isolated at his home, which is not a dorm, and health officials say he is doing well.

"Right now, we are not asking Boston residents to do anything differently. 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." said BPHC Executive Director Rita Nieves in a statement.

People are advised to take the same steps they would to prevent a cold or the flu: wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, cover coughs and sneezes, and stay home when you feel sick.

"We're taking the precautions to make sure that first of all, he's OK, anyone who came into contact with him, we're working on that situation," said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. "To our knowledge, there is no threat beyond this isolated incident, case I should say...but we want people to make sure they take precautions if they feel sick and they're not sure exactly what their symptoms might be, we're asking people do not self-diagnose, contact your primary care physician, contact the city of Boston, contact the state."

UMass Boston sent a letter to students and staff, notifying them about the illness.

"State and city public health authorities have informed us that the risk to members of our community is low," the letter said. "We will keep the community informed as more information is available. I want to remind everyone that all members of our community are valued and respected. On occasions like this, it is possible for fear to get the better of any of us. Let's remember that viruses are no one's fault and anyone can find themselves ill."

Massport released a statement Saturday: "Due to how this illness is transmitted, public health officials report there is a very low probability of a sick passenger spreading Coronavirus to others while traveling. Boston Logan does not have a nonstop flight from Wuhan, China. All passengers arriving from China are being given public health information and, at the minimum, are being screened for visual signs of illness by CBP, and if necessary be sent for secondary screening by CDC."

They also said that as of Saturday, one Chinese airline that operates at Logan, Hainan Airlines, has announced suspension of their service.

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