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5th Michigan person being tested for coronavirus had traveled to China

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An Oakland County resident with a travel history to China has become Michigan's fifth person to be tested for the new coronavirus.

Results of the first four cases — three from Washtenaw County and one from Macomb County — were tested in January and all results were negative.

In the latest case, an Oakland County resident remained hospitalized Saturday after travelling to China. It remains unclear what symptoms if any the patient exhibited, when the patient returned from China, or even where the patient entered the United States. 

The traveler was not stopped at Detroit Metro Airport, where U.S Customs and Border Protection and CDC staff have been screening travelers, according to Lynn Sutfin, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

But Sutfin said even if the traveler returned through Detroit Metro, that might have happened before federal screening of passengers began last Sunday. 

“It’s possible this person came through prior to that,” Sutfin wrote in a text. 

According to CDC guidelines, only people with symptoms of coronavirus and who have traveled to China recently or been in close contact with somebody with coronavirus are to be tested. 

Lab tests on the Oakland County traveler were sent to the CDC late Friday, and results are expected this week, Sutfin said. Calls to U.S. Customs and the CDC were not immediately returned Saturday afternoon. 

No other information is being released about the traveler at this time. 

Another person had been stopped at Detroit Metro Airport earlier this week and sent to a hospital to be tested, but health officials quickly determined the passenger did not fit the criteria set out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a possible victim of the deadly coronavirus. 

The update occurred as the first U.S. national reportedly died, possibly from the deadly new coronavirus, and as the World Health Organization updated its statistics. At least 34,886 cases of coronavirus had been identified, mostly in China, and 724 people have died, as of Saturday.

The U.S. patient who died was in Wuhan, China — the site of the viral outbreak — when he died, according to news reports.

There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus yet in Michigan, even as a seasonal flu, H1N1, has made a comeback.

As Bridge Magazine has reported, public health officials say the first line of defense against coronavirus is the same as any respiratory illnesses: Wash hands, cover coughs and sneezes, disinfectant surfaces and stay away from others when sick. 

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