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First case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus confirmed in Boston

The first case of the 2019 novel coronavirus in Massachusetts has been confirmed in a man returning from Wuhan, China, who is in his 20s and lives in Boston.

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) were notified by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the positive test results late Friday evening. This is the eighth case of infection with 2019 novel coronavirus reported in the United States. The risk to the public from the 2019 novel coronavirus remains low in Massachusetts.

The man recently traveled to Wuhan, China, and sought medical care soon after his return to Massachusetts. He has been isolated since that time and will continue to remain isolated until cleared by public health officials. His few close contacts have been identified and are being monitored for any sign of symptoms.

BPHC and MDPH continue to work closely with the CDC to maintain vigilance during this virus outbreak.

The novel coronavirus has resulted in thousands of confirmed human infections in more than 20 countries, with more than 99 percent of cases in China. To date, eight cases have been confirmed in the US: three people in California, two in Illinois and one individual each in Massachusetts, Washington State, and Arizona.

On Friday, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared the 2019 novel coronavirus a public health emergency and ordered any US citizens returning from the center of the outbreak in China to be quarantined for two weeks as a precaution. This followed a declaration Thursday by the World Health Organization that the coronavirus outbreak is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Also that day the CDC reported the first case of person-to-person transmission in Illinois between household members. 

BPHC, Massachusetts state health officials, in conjunction with Massport, local health departments, and other medical partners, have responded to prevent the spread of the virus.

Coronaviruses are respiratory viruses and are generally spread through respiratory secretions (droplets from coughs and sneezes) of an infected person to another person. Symptoms of novel coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and, in severe cases, pneumonia (fluid in the lungs).  Information about how this novel coronavirus spreads is still limited.

Although the risk of the coronavirus to Massachusetts residents remains low, people are advised to take many of the same steps they do to help prevent colds and the flu, including:

  • wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
  • cover coughs and sneezes, and
  • stay home when feeling sick.

Fact Sheets on the 2019 novel coronavirus are available in Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese, and English.

BPHC is working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control. For more information, call 311.

Additional details and guidance regarding the novel coronavirus, is available from the CDC: 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

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