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Boston man tests positive for Massachusetts' first case of coronavirus

Health officials stress the risk to the public remains low.
Credit: CDC via AP
This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

BOSTON — The coronavirus has arrived in New England.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) released details of the case on Saturday, February 1.

The man who has the disease returned home to Boston after a recent trip Wuhan, China, which is the epicenter of a major outbreak. Upon being checked out by medical providers, he was placed in isolation where he will remain as long as deemed necessary by his doctors.

"Massachusetts has been preparing for a possible case of this new coronavirus, and we were fortunate that astute clinicians took appropriate action quickly," said Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD.

Confirmation of his condition came Friday night when test results came back positive. People with whom the man came into contact with are also being monitored for any signs on infection.

Health officials released little information about the man except he is in his 20s.

“We are grateful that this young man is recovering and sought medical attention immediately,’’ Bharel said.

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This is the first case of coronavirus to be detected in Massachusetts and the eighth case in the United States. California has three cases, and Illinois has two, while Washington State and Arizona each have a single case. 

Worldwide, the outbreak has spread to thousands of people in 20 countries. However 99 percent of cases are concentrated in China.

Massachusetts health officials assure the risk to the public locally is low, and say no changes to regular behavior are necessary. They say the best defense is similar to what anyone would do to protect against a cold or the flu: 

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Stay home when feeling sick

DPH describes the 2019 Novel Coronavirus as belonging to a group of viruses that attack the respiratory system. It's transmitted through droplets people release when they cough or sneeze. Coughing is also one of the symptoms along with fever, shortness of breath, and in extreme cases, it can develop into pneumonia.