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Fort Bend County health department confirms 'presumptive positive' coronavirus case

The man, who is in his 70s, had recently traveled abroad.

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — The Fort Bend County health department confirmed a "presumptive positive" case of the COVID-19.

The man, who is in his 70s, had recently traveled abroad and got tested at a Houston lab. Those results came back identifying a "presumptive positive" case of the virus. The man has been hospitalized and is stable. 

"This presumptive case is actionable and we are treating it as a positive," the Fort Bend County Health & Human Services said.

A presumptive case means the results have not been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control. But a sample has been sent to their lab, the health department said.

Officials in a press conference Wednesday said there is "no evidence of community spread" in the area. They encouraged residents to remain calm and take precautions such as washing your hands and avoiding touching your face.

The Fort Bend health department says they have started an epidemiological investigation and is leading the effort to quickly identity close contacts with the individual.

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The Houston Health Department laboratory is now conducting COVID-19 testing for specimens collected by medical providers from patients who meet CDC COVID-19 testing criteria.

RELATED: Houston Health Department laboratory conducts local COVID-19 testing

In most cases, COVID-19 results are expected within 24 hours of the arrival of specimens to the Houston Health Department lab, which serves at the regional public health laboratory for a 17-county region of Southeast Texas.

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner released the following statement on the "presumptive positive" case in Fort Bend County:

"I know many Houstonians may feel anxious after learning of the presumptive positive COVID-19 Fort Bend County resident. I want to assure everyone that the city of Houston Health Department is closely monitoring the developments and collaborating with regional, state and federal health authorities. 

“For the general public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 remains low. If you have not been around anyone with COVID-19 or have not visited an ongoing outbreak area, you are currently not considered to be at risk.

“While people need to remain vigilant, there is currently no need for average Houstonians to take out-of-the-ordinary protective actions. People should continue to practice routine healthy hygiene habits to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, such as washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth, and staying home if sick.

“I also remind Houstonians there is no need to go to the emergency room unless you have a medical emergency. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your regular doctor first.

“While there are currently no confirmed cases in Houston, this is a rapidly evolving situation and additional cases are expected.”

Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80-percent of the cases there were mild. 

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk. 

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed. 

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Stay up to date on coronavirus

How coronavirus is spread

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through:

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus 

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members 
  • Use different utensils and dishes 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, hot your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

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