Texas sheriff says inmate’s coronavirus claims are ‘pretty unrealistic’

An inmate at a Texas jail is being held in quarantine after telling officers he was possibly exposed to the novel coronavirus prior to his arrest. The unnamed inmate was reportedly experiencing flulike symptoms, prompting officials to put him in isolation.

The inmate reportedly told jail officials that he came into contact with people who were recently quarantined for the virus while he was working as a contractor, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

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However, “That scenario actually seems pretty unrealistic from what we’re hearing,” Sheriff Javier Salazar with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office said, according to the outlet.

“Since the claim was made, we want to make sure that we’re acting appropriately,” he added.

Medical professionals came to Bexar County Jail to evaluate the man and determined he is more likely sickened from the flu or a cold. However, the 49-year-old inmate, who was arrested on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and assault-family violence, according to the San Antonio Express-News, is currently isolated in a negative pressure cell to prevent any illness from spreading within the jail.

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Currently, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Texas. However, some 91 American evacuees from Wuhan, China – the epicenter of the outbreak – are currently quarantined at Lackland Air Force Base after arriving on a State Department-chartered plane late last week.

Additionally, some Bexar County residents who recently returned from China are self-quarantined in their homes as a precaution, the outlet reported.

There are 12 confirmed cases of the novel virus in the U.S., the first of which occurred in a Washington State man who has since been released from the hospital. Six other cases have been confirmed in California, as well as one in Wisconsin, one in Arizona, one in Massachusetts and two in Illinois. Officials last week said the two cases in Illinois, who were identified as a husband and wife in Chicago, were also released from the hospital.

No deaths have been reported in the U.S. and the large majority of cases still remain in China. Overall, some 908 people have died of the virus and more than 40,000 have been sickened worldwide.