A Murrieta Valley High School employee under self-quarantine for coronavirus tested negative for Covid-19 officials announced Monday evening and classes will resume Wednesday.

“Students and staff under self-quarantine will be notified by Riverside Public Health officially stating that they do not need to take this extra precaution at this time and may return to school on Wednesday with all other students,” according to an announcement from the Murrieta Valley Unified School District.

The school was shuttered Monday and district officials intended to keep it closed until lab test results on the employee were vetted. The employee, whose name was not released, had traveled to a location where coronavirus was present and returned to work.

As a precaution, the county Department of Public Health issued exclusion letters to 71 students, ordering them to self-quarantine because they may have interacted with the employee.

Parents or guardians of students exhibiting any signs of illness were asked to alert the school district. Coronavirus bears similarities to the flu, including high fever, coughing and respiratory difficulties.

Meanwhile, three additional Riverside County residents are infected with novel coronavirus, likely the result of local exposure to the pathogen and not because of overseas travel, the county’s public health officer said Monday.

Dr. Cameron Kaiser said the three new COVID-19 infections surfaced after the county’s first was confirmed over the weekend. Two patients are self-quarantined in their homes while the third is undergoing treatment at a Coachella Valley hospital. None were identified.

It was unclear whether any of the newly diagnosed individuals had been in contact with the first person who is in isolation at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage.

“It is now considered a case of `community spread,”’ according to a Riverside University Health System statement.

“Community spread involves transmission of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown. It indicates that the virus was not contracted through relevant travel history, or contact to a known case of COVID-19, and suggests that the virus is present in the community.”

Kaiser urged precautions, particularly for people with underlying conditions, such as seniors who may be in compromised health or HIV carriers. The doctor said avoiding large gatherings and limiting non-essential travel would be good steps. He also asked individuals who develop symptoms to stay away from others and seek medical attention.

Two other Riverside County residents were diagnosed with coronavirus while under quarantine aboard a Diamond Princess cruise liner at anchor in Northern California. However, those individuals were infected while traveling and not in Southern California, according to health officials.

Another consequence of the virus was the cancellation of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, a 14-day internationally watched professional tennis tournament featuring both top men’s and women’s players.

County supervisors were expected to consider Kaiser’s public health declaration as part of their policy agenda Tuesday. The declaration will provide a means for the county to marshal resources that can be dedicated to containing the coronavirus, should it be necessary, relying on state and federal aid.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 100,000 coronavirus cases have been documented globally, the vast majority in China, where it originated. Close to 4,000 have died — most in China, officials said. Just over 500 infections have been recorded in the U.S., two dozen of which have been fatal.

By contrast, according to the CDC, there have been about 20,000 deaths stemming from flu-related complications nationwide since the start of influenza season in September.

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