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12th coronavirus case confirmed in U.S.; Diagnoses internationally rise above 24,500

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, a medical worker writes their colleague's name on a protective suit to aid in identification as they work at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Firday, Jan. 24, 2020. (Xiong Qi/Xinhua via AP/TNS)
February 06, 2020

A twelfth coronavirus case was reported in the U.S. this week, as the death toll from the outbreak climbed to 491 in China and more than 24,500 diagnoses were made globally, according to public health officials.

Eleven cases of the virus, named 2019-nCoV, were confirmed in the United States as of Sunday, including the first in Massachusetts reported over the weekend. Another coronavirus diagnosis was reported by officials in Wisconsin on Wednesday.

Risk of infection continues to be low in the state and the country, though, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

“While person-to-person spread among close contacts has been detected with this virus, at this time this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States,” the agency said on its website. “The novel coronavirus has resulted in thousands of confirmed human infections, primarily in China, with a small proportion of cases resulting in death.

“Other countries, including the United States, have identified a small but growing number of cases in people who have traveled to China.”

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UMass Boston student who traveled to Wuhan, China, where the outbreak originated, is currently being monitored by nurses over the phone as he remains quarantined in his off-campus home. The coronavirus patient, a man in his 20s, is doing well, officials with the Boston Public Health Commission said Saturday.

Despite the recent diagnosis, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has said the risk of the illness spreading across the state or the city of Boston is low. But worries remain, and some in the state have reported being impacted by travel restrictions put in place to prevent the outbreak’s spread.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Jan. 29 that 15 airports in the country, including Boston Logan International Airport, would start to conduct enhanced screenings of passengers from China. Federal officials last week also limited arrivals from the country to 11 airports starting Sunday, according to MDPH.

The federal government has also started sending coronavirus test kits to public laboratories across the country.

Confirmed cases of the illness internationally increased by more than 10,000 since Monday, and deaths in China jumped by more than 100, according to the World Health Organization’s most recent situation report. The first death outside of China was reported in the Philippines.

As of Wednesday, 24 countries have reported coronavirus diagnoses. Belgium confirmed its first case, and Canada reported its fifth patient. Thirteen more cases were reported in Japan and six additional patients were diagnosed in Singapore as well as Thailand, the report said.

WHO has estimated the total amount of funds needed from February through March to “implement priority public health measures” to respond to the virus is $675.5 million.

“My biggest worry is that there are countries today who do not have the systems in place to detect people who have contracted with the virus, even if it were to emerge,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organization’s director-general, said in a statement. “Urgent support is needed to bolster weak health systems to detect, diagnose and care for people with the virus, to prevent further human to human transmission and protect health workers.”

While there is currently no vaccine for the coronavirus, public health officials have urged people to take preventative measures similar to those taken during flu season, including washing one’s hand with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoiding contact with sick individuals and covering one’s coughs and sneezes, as the illness is generally spread through respiratory secretions.

State, federal and international public health organizations have also offered information aimed at combating myths about the virus.

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© 2020 MassLive.com