U-Mass Boston Student Is The First Coronavirus Case In Massachusetts

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — State health officials have announced more details about the first case of the Coronavirus in Massachusetts.

The patient is a student at U-Mass Boston, according to Dr Jennifer Lo, Medical Director of the Boston Public Health Commission.

The man in his 20's returned from Wuhan, China to Boston on Tuesday January 28th before health screening was enacted at Logan Airport. He is said to have come into contact with "a very limited number of people" since landing. He was isolated in his home on Wednesday January 29th, and his Coronavirus test results returned positive the night of Friday January 30th.

Health officials said that home isolation is consistent with isolation guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. While there was no word on exactly where he lives, Dr. Lo confirmed that he is not being isolated inside a U-Mass Boston dorm on campus.

No details were available on how long he had been in Wuhan, or the reason for his trip there. Officials said the man was asymptomatic on the plane, he quickly sought medical attention once back in the U.S., and had been ill for only "a brief period of time" before being diagnosed.

Health officials said there are still questions about whether asymptomatic people can transmit the virus. "It appears it might happen on rare occasion," said Dr. Larry Madoff, Medical Director of the DPH Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences. "What really transmits is people who are sick, coughing and sneezing, who have respiratory droplet being put out."

There was no word on whether or not people who were aboard that flight have been notified they were on a flight with an infected person; Public Health officials said that's up to the CDC.

Officials said the patient is now doing "quite well" and has been "very cooperative with isolation." He is being checked out on a regular basis using a specific Health Department protocol, and he is also monitoring his own symptoms.

Doctors say it is safer for him, and the general public, if he remains in his current location rather than being moved to a hospital setting, since he does not require immediate hospitalization. Should he require it, Boston EMS has been through "preparation and training on how to transfer the patient while minimizing the risk of exposure."

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According to health officials, the student did not take part in any university activities since landing in the U.S. It's unclear how long until he could be cleared to go outside again, or what his symptoms would have to look like for him to be allowed back into the public.

"We're working closely with out CDC partners .... We'll continue to do laboratory testing," said Dr. Madoff. "When we're sure he's safe to the community, at that time we'd release him. But it's not yet known how long that would be or exactly what that protocol is."

Health Officials reassured the public there is not a major risk of infection. "The risk for residents in Massachusetts remains low," said Rita Nieves, Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. "We will maintain vigilance... we will update our website to give critical guidance and education for our medical and federal partners while we continue to monitor the situation and update you as we have new information."

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