COVID-19 found in 6th person in Houston area who returned from Egypt trip

Coronavirus

HOUSTON (KXAN) — There are a total of six patients in the Houston area who have presumptively tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). All were members of a group who had recently traveled to Egypt.

“This new case in Houston is not unexpected because it’s among the same group of international travelers associated with other cases in the Houston area,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner in a press release. “There remains no evidence of community spread, no need to alter our normal activity in Houston and certainly no reason to let fear grip our lives.”

The new case is a woman who is between 60 and 70 years old. Houston Public Health says she is hospitalized and stable.

On Thursday, Harris County Public Health confirmed a total of four positive cases of COVID-19 in the county. HCPH announced the county’s first two confirmed cases just minutes after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott confirmed the Texas’ first official case in nearby Fort Bend County.

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HCPH says the first two earlier tests were confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control. The sixth patient’s test was also confirmed by the CDC. Since she was tested, the Houston Health Department lab has gained the ability to test for the disease, although the CDC has requested all cases from the lab be forwarded to it for more testing.

The earlier patients are a man and a woman — one of whom is a Rice University employee — from the unincorporated area of northwest Harris County, outside of Houston, the HCHC says. They’re said to be somewhere in the age range of 60 and 70.

On Thursday night, Harris County confirmed an additional “presumptive positive” case, a man between 60 and 70 years old also in the unincorporated area of Harris County. This case is said to also have been acquired abroad and is related to the other Egypt travelers.

“The best tools to fight the spread of this illness are facts, not fear,” said Hidalgo. “Residents should know that we have been leaning forward to make sure our response to this illness continues to be proactive and coordinated with a wide array of local, state and federal officials.”

Harris County Public Health says it’s now doing contact tracing to see who, if anyone, the patients may have come into contact with.

Friday, the Texas Department of State Health Services issued a statement on the confirmed cases. It said, in part: “These cases are among a group that traveled overseas together and were being monitored by public health because of a possible exposure to COVID-19.”

“Public health departments are working to identify any close contacts of the patients while they were sick so they can be isolated and monitored for symptoms and quickly tested, if needed.

Travel-related cases in Texas don’t indicate spread within the state, but DSHS, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, and other state agencies continue their ongoing preparations so that all of state government is working together to limit the spread of the virus and protect Texans.

The immediate risk to most Texans remains low.”

Houston’s first COVID-19 case

On Thursday night, the Houston Health Department also reported the city’s first presumptive positive case: a man in his 60s-70s with a history of international travel.

In a release, the City of Houston said, in part:

“The man is experiencing mild symptoms and is self-quarantine at home. He is part of the same group of travelers to Egypt associated with recent cases announced in Fort Bend County and Harris County. There is no evidence of community spread.”

“All the cases in the Houston area have international travel in common and we’ve been actively monitoring these individuals since they were identified as being at-risk,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “I encourage Houstonians to limit international travel for the time being and heed the advice of public health officials about healthy hygiene habits. If you are feeling sick, stay at home. But do not be parlayed by fear.”

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