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UMass Boston student is city's first confirmed case of that Wuhan coronavirus strain, as number of confirmed flu cases in state rises to 4,000

The state Department of Public Health and the University of Massachusetts Boston reported today that a UMass Boston student recently returned from Wuhan, China was diagnosed with the 2019 novel coronavirus.

Meanwhile, DPH reports that as of Jan. 25, the state has seen 4,000 "laboratory confirmed" cases of the flu this season, which is only a small fraction of the likely total cases since most people who show up at their doctor or ER with flu-like symptoms, do not have lab testing done to confirm their cases.

DPH reports that the student, a man in his 20s, came back from Wuhan and, when he started feeling ill, immediately contacted a doctor. He "has been isolated since that time and will continue to remain isolated until cleared by public health officials," DPH reports.

The department adds that "his few close contacts have been identified and are being monitored for any sign of symptoms."

In a memo to the UMass community on Saturday afternoon, interim UMass Boston Chancellor Katherine Newman said that because the new strain of the coronavirus is spread similarly to the flu - and can have similar symptoms - people should take the same precautions they might with the flu: Wash hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, avoid touching one's eyes, nose and mouth, avoid close contact with sick people and don't share eating utensils, water bottles, e-cigarettes and makeup with others.

She added that anybody who goes to and returns from an affected area should immediately contact a doctor should they develop respiratory symptoms or a fever within 14 days of their return.

Also:

I want to remind everyone that all members of our community are valued and respected. On occasions like this, it is possible for fear to get the better of any of us. Let's remember that viruses are no one's fault and anyone can find themselves ill. We all want to be treated with care and compassion, especially when we fall ill. Our campus will conduct itself with its bedrock values in mind as we continue to ensure the health and safety of our entire community.

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Comments

Headlines from Uhub continue. I’m done. Just done.

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Mocking?

It is a simple fact that the flu is dangerous, spread by the same means as coronaviruses, and here right now - and that any panic about a similar and possibly milder disease far away is folly when we already have a devil we know in our midst.

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We know is less dangerous than the devil we don’t know.

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No. It is only less dangerous because it has a vaccine.

Get yours yet?

If not, go do it. Because the flu is massively more dangerous because it is highly prevalent right here right now all around you!

Meanwhile, the Wuhan virus is apparently milder than the flu for most people - one reason it is spreading so fast as it doesn't debilitate young healthy people. We know about the deaths because those are the people being tested. The number of cases are massively undercounted at this point.

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In December. Are you thinking I’m an anti vaxer or something.

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Given the overly sensitive reaction to the headline, yeah...

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I know 17 people who are fighting the flu—seventeen for just little-old me. A few have been out of work for over a week. They all had “flu shots”. I haven’t had one, nor had the flu, since I finished undergrad 16 years ago. Hopefully something kills me soon because I am done listening to advice from people with terminal degrees.

You ALWAYS have the right, most informed, I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I answer to everything on UHUB, always. Jesus Christo, give it a rest.

There are multiple experts (I’ll cite my sources whenever I want) stating that hundreds of thousands are already walking around with this new hot mess. How many of those people also have gotten, already have, or will get the flu? This is a different animal; the shot is for fools, and before you go there, my kid is vaccinated.

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you believe in vaccines, just not influenza vaccines? Is this an attempt to be original in your superstitions? I'm confused.

I must say your anecdotal evidence is remarkably precise. Not 16, or 18, but 17? And you know that vaccination history of each? And you're certain they have the flu? How did you determine this? Did you do the diagnosis yourself? Did they? I had a bad cold last week, but I don't think it was the flu, though I'm not really sure. After all, how would I know?

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My child is under two; he needs some sensible protection, so of course he received the flu shot. His whole daycare got the vaccine, which looks like a crappy mix this year. His school lost half the students and teachers, who must be vaccinated as well, within two weeks.

Also, two other North Shore schools closed last week because half the population had the flu.

My friends and coworkers are fairly intelligent (open to interpretation) and pragmatic individuals. They all ended up at the ER or doctor’s office; several were diagnosed with the flu AND pneumonia. Weird, eh? I had a head cold in January, but if you’re running a 102 to 104 temp for several days and can’t move, that’s not a cold. That is what each person, all 17, said they endured. I am running a count so I have a nice story for the cockroaches. Baseline child vaccines make a ton of sense. The flu shot for an adult is an Encore gamble each and every year. Hugs and kisses, though.

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You?

If its plague time, I know who I'm going to listen to.

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This is a global message board after all

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...to the sick passenger from China who refused medical treatment at Logan a few days ago?

Why haven’t I seen anyone asking this?

www.wcvb.com/amp/article/passenger-on-flight-from-beijing-medically-eval...

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... As the article you link notes, at Logan "Boston EMS determined the person showed no signs of any symptoms related to the Wuhan coronavirus and was cleared to leave the airport".

So, there's no reason to draw any armchair investigator connection.

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...has never made a mistake and are also highly trained in this never-before-seen epidemic? And there is absolutely no chance that this person may not have presented with exact symptoms at the time but developed symptoms over the last 3 days?

Is it not possible that Boston EMS was not totally equipped to make the judgement of said passenger? Maybe the passenger just had a cold, but I would like to know if there is a connection with the confirmed outbreak and the previously mentioned flight/passenger.

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Wash your hands, keep your bathroom clean, dont travel to "GY-NAH", and if you feel sick? Dont go to work or school and see a doctor.

C'mon, people. This isn't World War Z, everyone just needs to breathe deeply and relax.

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Called HIPAA, also covers international visitors seeking medical care in these United States...

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If the passengers identity is never released, and the confirmed patients name is never released, and if the passenger and the patient are the same person, does it violate HIPPA to confirm it’s the same person?

Maybe it does? If not, it might be useful to make it public to learn from it to improve controls.

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Wish I were able to delete a comment instead of just editing it.

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1) Yes, the flu vaccine is more effective some years than others because it's hard predicting which strains will be going around months in advance. This year's vaccine seems to have been on the less effective end, plus flu season started early. Still worth getting but let's not blame people who've had the flu for getting it.

2) You can have a "flu-like illness" that isn't caused by the flu virus, including having high temps for several days. The only way to tell if it's actually influenza is by getting tested.

No need for fear mongering. Also no need for snarkiness. There's enough crappiness right now without adding to it.

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FYI, per the latest Mass DPH weekly flu report: "All influenza strains that have been characterized in Massachusetts this season to date are covered by the current influenza vaccine."

CDC has a lot of detailed info and references on the subject of flu vaccine efficacy at: Vaccine Effectiveness: How Well Do the Flu Vaccines Work?.

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do people get quarantined if they need medical care? In a state hospital like the Shattuck? I couldn't imagine state officials commandeering a private hospital like the BI to take care of a patient like this...

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The person can just stay inside their house for a few weeks.

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Someone has to deliver food to them if they aren't allowed to go out to grocery stores or restaurants.

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