As concern about a novel coronavirus grows around the country and globe, the single patient confirmed to have the illness in Massachusetts remains in isolation as he recovers, public health officials said.
The University of Massachusetts Boston student came down with the coronavirus late last month after returning from Wuhan, China, and has been isolated at his home since then. The Department of Public Health confirmed the case Feb. 1.
"We are happy to report the UMass Boston student is doing well and continues to recover. He is self-isolating at his off-campus home," Boston Public Health Commission spokeswoman Caitlin McLaughlin said. "Our focus remains on his recovery and protecting the health and well-being of all Boston residents during this worldwide coronavirus outbreak."
This specific coronavirus — now referred to as COVID-19 — is a respiratory sickness caused by a new virus first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, and which has been spreading. The disease has killed nearly 2,500 people worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
There have been 14 cases diagnosed in the U.S., and an additional 39 cases have occurred among people returning to America from "high-risk settings," for a total of 53 cases in the United States. When the single confirmed case of coronavirus in Massachusetts was announced, DPH said the man would "remain isolated until cleared by public health officials."
McLaughlin told the News Service this week that the BPHC is "following CDC protocols for confirmed cases" when asked what steps remain before the patient can be said to have recovered.
"Decisions to discontinue transmission-based precautions or in-home isolation can be made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with clinicians, infection prevention and control specialists, and public health based upon multiple factors, including disease severity, illness signs and symptoms, and results of laboratory testing for 2019-nCoV in respiratory specimens," the CDC said in guidance published Feb. 12.
Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel plans a 3:30 p.m. teleconference to make statements and answer questions from the media about emergency response planning in Massachusetts for COVID-19.