A man who recently traveled back to Boston from Wuhan, China, has been diagnosed as the first Massachusetts resident with the new coronavirus, state health officials said Saturday.
It’s the eighth diagnosis of the illness in the U.S. and the first on the East Coast.
The man is in his 20s and lives in Boston, according to a news release from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. He sought medical soon after his return to Massachusetts and has been isolated since then.
He will continue to be isolated until he is cleared by public health officials, according to Saturday’s news release. His “few close contacts” have been identified and are being monitored for any sign of symptoms.
“We are grateful that this young man is recovering and sought medical attention immediately,” said Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel in the statement. “Massachusetts has been preparing for a possible case of this new coronavirus, and we were fortunate that astute clinicians took appropriate action quickly. Again, the risk to the public from the 2019 novel coronavirus remains low in Massachusetts.”
American public health officials have cautioned that the flu remains more dangerous for people in the United States, and no one has died from the virus in the U.S.
“People should take the same precautions they do to prevent the spread of the cold and flu, and [the Massachusetts Department of Public Health] will continue to work with medical professionals across the Commonwealth,” Gov. Charlie Baker tweeted.
But on Friday, the White House declared a public health emergency over the outbreak, which is centered in Wuhan, China. The country has seen 259 people die and over 11,000 infected so far.
Travel restrictions to the U.S. were announced for some foreign nationals on Friday as well, with screening boosted at airports around the country, including Boston Logan International Airport.
China has severely restricted internal travel as it attempts to stop the spread of the virus. The World Health Organization also declared a global health emergency over the outbreak.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh addressed the illness to the public on Jan. 27.
“We are in the best position to respond if the virus does spread” to Boston, Walsh said, noting its many world-class hospitals.
He said that the Boston Public Health Commission set up an internal incident command system to quickly address any possible cases that arise and to advise local health care groups ahead of time on the best ways to prepare.