February 15, 2020
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The first person in Maine is being tested for coronavirus. It doesn’t mean they have it.

Pang Xinglei | AP
Pang Xinglei | AP
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, centre, wearing a protective face mask waves as he inspects the novel coronavirus pneumonia prevention and control work at a neighbourhoods in Beijing, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday the first person in the state is being tested for coronavirus while stressing risk to the public is low and that the person has agreed to stay home until testing is complete.

It’s still unclear if the person has the virus, which emerged in China in late 2019 and is characterized by cold-like symptoms that can progress to pneumonia. It has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization but has only been the subject of 12 confirmed U.S. cases, while more than 300 tests here have been negative.

[1st coronavirus case confirmed in New England]

In a Monday news release, Robert Long, a spokesman for the Maine CDC, said the risk to the public is low and the person has voluntarily agreed to remain at home until testing — which typically takes between one and five days — is complete.

Contracting the virus is unlikely unless someone has traveled recently to China or contacted someone with the virus. The state gave no additional information on the person aside from saying they weren’t associated with Colby College, which chose last week to isolate students who recently traveled to China in a hotel as a precaution though they showed no symptoms.

[Colby isolates students after travel to China as coronavirus risk in Maine remains low]

Dr. Nirav Shah, the Maine CDC’s director, said in a statement that Mainers should “practice good hygiene, stay home if you feel sick and share your recent travel history with medical providers if you experience fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.”

Health care providers must report any patients who have traveled to China recently and have fever or respiratory issues within 14 days of travel, while the U.S. CDC is responsible for coronavirus testing.

The likelihood of getting the disease is still low in the United States. For comparison, the federal government estimates there have been between 24 million and 31 million cases of influenza during this flu season, with nearly 3,900 cases in Maine alone and 13 deaths.

 


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