BOSTON – Gov. Charlie Baker is emphasizing the importance of coronavirus surveillance and federal leadership as Bay State residents digest information about the spread of the deadly virus, mainly in China.

The state Department of Public Health on Thursday set up a new website with information about the virus, which causes respiratory infection. According to DPH, there have been five confirmed cases in the United States, no confirmed cases in Massachusetts, and the risk to residents in Massachusetts was considered "low" as of 10 a.m. Thursday.

"The new coronavirus has resulted in thousands of confirmed human infections, primarily in China, with a small proportion of cases resulting in death," DPH says on its site. "Other countries, including the United States, have identified a small but growing number of cases in people who have traveled to China."

On Thursday night, the U.S. State Department advised U.S. citizens to not travel to China due to the outbreak. Some airlines have altered their service to and from China, and Boston Logan International Airport has been identified by the CDC as one of 20 U.S. airports that will have enhanced risk assessments for passengers arriving from China.

"There is a lot of ongoing back and forth communication about policy and about surveillance that goes on between the feds and the states," Baker said during an appearance with Greg Hill on Thursday on WEEI-FM. "But that is totally driven by fed policies and my view on it is it should be. But it's really critical for the states to make sure that they're doing their surveillance work that they're supposed to be doing so that the feds have the best information people can make available to them when they make decisions."

Baker emphasized the federal government is "playing point" on coronavirus responses. "And they should be because the decisions that get made about where people can fly into and what the protocols are going to be when they do from a place that's dealing with something like the outbreak that's being dealt with in China needs to be dealt with at a federal level," he said.

Logan Airport has "processed a number of people who have come in who were on flights not from Wuhan or the area in China where the outbreak is, but they are people who are coming in on flight from other places in Asia and China that originated in those areas," Baker said. "And they've been checking those folks as they come in."

 

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