- Associated Press
Friday, March 6, 2020

BOSTON (AP) - The number of people in Massachusetts who have tested positive for the new coronavirus that has sicked tens of thousands around the world has risen to eight, state health officials said Friday.

That includes one confirmed case and seven that are awaiting final confirmation from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Five of the people with presumptive cases - three of whom live in Suffolk County and two of whom live in Norfolk County — attended a recent meeting of the biotech firm Biogen that was held for company employees at the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel.

City health officials said the hotel has been working to clean the area where the Biogen meeting took place

The people with the two remaining presumptive cases had recently traveled to northern Italy.

They include a woman in her 20s who went with a school group. She lives in Norfolk County and is recovering at home. The only case in Middlesex County was a woman in her 60s who had also traveled to northern Italy.

State health officials did not identify which city or town each individual lives in.

Friday morning, students at two schools in Wellesley were dismissed early after school officials alerted parents that they had learned that a Wellesley resident who tested positive for COVID-19 - the disease caused by the new coronavirus - is also a parent of children who attend the two schools, Upham Elementary School and Wellesley Middle School.

Wellesley school officials said the goal of the early dismissal was to clean and sanitize the schools. No children were showing symptoms, they said.

The state’s first confirmed case came at the beginning of February, when a male student at the University of Massachusetts Boston who had traveled to Wuhan, China, sought medical care after his return from the virus’s epicenter. Health officials said the student is continuing to recover at home.

The virus has stymied global travel, sickened more than 100,000 people worldwide and killed more than 3,400 people.

Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday that the risk of the virus for the general public in Massachusetts remains low, adding that it “is not deadly for the vast majority of people who get it.”

State health officials said they currently have enough tests for the virus and have been processing about 40 to 50 a day at the state lab. They said they can get test results in 24 hours.

Baker, a Republican, had earlier said that all residents returning from China, Italy, Iran and South Korea will be required to self-quarantine as part of new travel directives from the federal government.

MIT announced Thursday that effective immediately, any in-person MIT event with more than 150 attendees on campus or off campus must be postponed, canceled or “virtualized” through May 15. The new policy does not apply to classroom instruction or other internal gatherings.

State officials have also called on colleges and high schools to cancel study abroad programs.

More than 700 Massachusetts residents have been quarantined as a precautionary measure.

Of those quarantined, 470 people have completed monitoring and 249 remain in isolation, according to health officials.

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