Boston health officials monitoring 33 people who could develop coronavirus

BOSTON (WHDH) - Thirty-three Bostonians who fit the criteria for developing the potentially deadly coronavirus are currently being monitored by health experts, city officials announced Thursday.

The risk of coronavirus in the city remains low and there has been only one confirmed case, officials said.

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The individuals who are being monitored are not showing symptoms of the virus but officials believe they could still develop it.

“These are individuals who have come through any of the 11 airports that do accept direct flights from China,” said Rita Nieves, Interim Director of the Boston Public Health Department.

Those individuals got cleared at the various airports they traveled to from China and have since come back to Boston. City officials immediately documented their information for the purpose of monitoring their health.

“They are home. They are instructed to take their temperatures a number of times during the day. If they develop any symptoms like a cough, fever, or body aches, we are in constant communication with them,” Nieves said.

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If any of the 33 residents develop symptoms, they will be treated immediately so the virus is not spread, Nieves added.

Boston EMS Chief James Hooley said the ambulances in the city are equipped with masks, gloves, and necessary cleaning solutions.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that a total of 231 people across the state are being monitored for coronavirus-like symptoms.

Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, according to the CDC. Reported worldwide illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death.

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The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, typically between people who are in close contact with one another and via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Dr. Monica Bharel, commissioner of the state’s Department of Public Health, warned that the risk of flu in Massachusetts is more serious than coronavirus at this time.

Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday he will release a plan next week on steps Massachusetts is taking to prepare for a possible outbreak of a new virus spreading around the world.

Baker was also asked about what steps, if any, the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the Boston Marathon, should be considered since the race draws runners from around the globe.

Baker said his guess is that the association would talk to federal authorities and others about the right way to deal with concerns.

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