BOSTON (WWLP) – A young woman in Norfolk County has been identified as the first presumptive positive case of the coronavirus in Massachusetts, according to state health officials Monday night. 

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the woman is in her 20s and had recently traveled to Italy with a school group. She was symptomatic and is recovering at home. 

Her identity has not been released. Public health officials said she is the first presumptive case in Massachusetts to test positive for the deadly virus since testing began in the state on Friday, Feb. 28. 

Her test results came back positive Monday evening and will be sent to the federal CDC for final confirmation. If confirmed, she would be the second confirmed positive case in Massachusetts since the outbreak began in January. The risk to the public remains low in Massachusetts, according to public health officials.

We are grateful this individual is recovering. We understand the concern this new virus is causing, and our state’s ability to quickly test for the virus is a positive development. The risk to the public from COVID-19 remains low in Massachusetts.

Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH

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So far, 12 Massachusetts residents, including the first confirmed case and the first presumptive positive case, have been tested for the virus. Of the 12, three have been tested since Friday when testing began at the Massachusetts lab.

As of last week, 608 people have been in self-quarantine in Massachusetts for the virus, out of that number, 377 have completed monitoring and are no longer quarantined, while 231 remain quarantined. An update will be provided on Wednesday.

There have been more than 60 U.S. cases of the coronavirus confirmed, a total of six people have died. Globally, 80,000 cases have been confirmed.

Although the risk of the novel coronavirus to Massachusetts residents remains low, and the risk of the flu is high, 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 
  • Avoid touching your eyes and face
  • Clean things that are frequently touched (like doorknobs and countertops) with household cleaning spray or wipes
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow
  • Stay home when feeling sick
  • Get a flu shot

Individuals who are in voluntary self-quarantine continue to be monitored by their local boards of health. DPH will release updated statewide monitoring data weekly, beginning Wednesday, March 4. 

People who have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19 and who have symptoms of the disease (fever, cough, shortness of breath) should reach out to their healthcare provider and call ahead before going to a healthcare facility. 

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