Boston is testing 34 people for the symptoms of Coronavirus, including the only confirmed case in Massachusetts, according to health officials. The risk of catching the virus in the city, however, remains slim.
The 33 people came to the city through one of the 11 airports in the country that accepted direct flights from China, revealed the officials during a press conference. These people add to the already existing single case in Massachusetts, a student from UMass Boston who had travelled to Wuhan, China.
“The guidance is that person has to get two negative tests, consecutive tests, so we’re waiting for that to happen so he can get cleared,” said Rita Nieves, interim executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission.
None of the 33 other people who are being monitored under CDC guidelines in Boston has shown any symptoms so far, she added.
“They’re instructed to take their temperatures a number of times during the day, and if they develop any symptoms like cough, fever, body aches, we’re in constant communication with them,” Nieves said. “The public health nurses call them, and then we will give them instructions on how to get care if that happens, but so far nobody has required that.”
“The risk is very low to Bostonians to contract the coronavirus,” added Boston Health and Human Services Chief Marty Martinez.
Nevertheless, the city officials are preparing for whatever scenario they might have to face.
“We want to contain it, and we want to make sure people are being monitored and then that we’re sending out the right messaging in terms of how to keep yourself healthy, how not to spread germs,” Martinez said.
The comments came a day after Massachusetts was declared to have had 680 people quarantined, which means they are under observation just in case they present any symptoms. While 377 of them have completed their monitoring with no symptoms, 231 are still being quarantined in their homes.
Massachusetts governor Charlie Broker said a plan is being prepared on steps needed to prepare for a possible epidemic outbreak. The plan will be released next week.
An “incident command structure” had been established to monitor the Coronavirus, spread awareness, and manage resources, according to Nieves.
“I want to assure you that Boston is prepared if we do end up with an outbreak of this condition,” she said. “We have an experienced team that is well-versed in dealing with similar situations.”
The officials are asking people to follow the steps they would follow when trying not to catch a cold in order to prevent the virus from spreading. These steps include washing hands, covering your face, and staying at home if you feel sick.
Additionally, if a person gets sick while travelling, they are supposed to notify their health care provider about their travelling history.
“If we get within six feet of somebody who’s coughing, has a fever, something like that, we don a mask for us that’s fitted,” Boston EMS Chief James Hooley said. “We would then also wear a face shield, the gown like you’d see in operating rooms… and put a mask on the person.”