Pittsfield family under quarantine following trip to China

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PITTSFIELD — A city family is under a mandatory household quarantine following their return from a rural area of China.

Mayor Linda Tyer said the family is not showing any symptoms after they visited a low-risk area of the country. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued the 14-day quarantine as a precaution, she said.

The family went directly home following the airport screening process, she said, and they made no contact with any other residents. "That was part of their instructions," Tyer said.

The mayor said the family is one of many in the state to face quarantines after a coronavirus outbreak began to spread last month. In China, it has led to the deaths of 2,595 people and infected 77,262, according to a fact sheet issued Monday by the World Health Organization.

Outside of China, the virus' spread has killed 23 people and infected some 2,069.

Tyer said the state is monitoring travelers from China, and that is how the city became aware of the family's quarantine.

"It's worth noting that there are several hundred people in Massachusetts in this exact same situation," she said. "Mass. DPH has a very solid plan for monitoring these families to make sure everyone is protected."

Ann Scales, a spokeswoman for DPH, declined to comment on the family's circumstances, saying the state agency will only comment on confirmed new cases of the virus, which causes a disease known as COVID-19. Still, she said public risk remains low in the commonwealth.

"COVID-19 is not currently circulating in the US and no special precautions are required," Scales said in an email. "The risk of COVID-19 in Massachusetts remains low."

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As for the Pittsfield family, the adults are not allowed to go to work, Tyer said, and the children are not allowed to attend school for the duration of the two-week quarantine.

"They are not allowed to leave their house for any reason," she said.

Meantime, Tyer said the family will check in with the city's public health nurse twice a day.

If members of the family do begin to show symptoms, Tyer said they have been instructed to notify the public health nurse so that specialized transport can be arranged. The medical facility would be notified in advance, she said.

"They can't just show up to the emergency room," Tyer said. "There's a very specific set of protocols in place."

Tyer said it's flu season, too, so the general public should take caution.

"What we would say is everyone should practice really careful hygiene to protect themselves from either of those strains of flu, or any other illnesses that people might be susceptible to," she said.

City Health Director Gina Armstrong urged people to wash their hands and avoid contact with people who are ill.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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