Coronavirus In Massachusetts: First Case Confirmed

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — A man in his 20's returning from Wuhan, China who lives in Boston has tested positive for the Coronavirus, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

This is the first confirmed case of Coronavirus in the Bay State. Officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were notified of the man's positive test results late Friday evening.

This marks the eighth case of the virus reported in the United States.

The patient had recently returned from Wuhan, China, and he sought medical care shortly after he returned to Boston. Since he returned, he has been isolated. A few of his close contacts are also being monitored for any signs of symptoms.

Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel released a statement, saying "we are grateful that this young man is recovering and sought medical attention immediately... the risk to the public from the 2019 novel Coronavirus remains low in Massachusetts."

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Meanwhile, dozens of passengers at Boston's Logan Airport were seen wearing surgical masks on Saturday, a day after the U.S. Government declared Coronavirus a public health emergency.

However, according to some infectious disease experts, the flimsy face masks can be rendered ineffective after about half an hour of use.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a surgical mask is intended to protect the user from "large droplets, splashes, or sprays of bodily or other hazardous fluid." That means it can help prevent influenza (flu) because the flu virus is carried in larger particle.

Since experts still do not yet know how the Coronoavirus is being transmitted, Chinese officials are urging residents to wear the surgical masks when out in public as a safety precaution.

Unfortunately, the CDC says after about half an hour of breathing into it, a surgical mask will become damp and will be much less effective. The agency says the loose-fitting surgical mask "does NOT provide the wearer with a reliable level of protection from inhaling smaller airborne particles and is not considered respiratory protection."

There's a different approach coming from the U.S., where the CDC is recommending any health care workers who come across a potential Coronavirus patient should use the more heavy-duty N95 respirator mask, which keeps out smaller airborne pathogens.

It's more serious work to don one of those protective masks though; healthcare workers using the N95 masks are required by law to undergo an annual fitness test, and they must show they know how to properly put it on. These kinds of masks are available for public purchase, but some people do find it harder to breathe with them on.

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According to WBZ NewsRadio's Shari Small, plenty of passengers at Boston's Logan airport are opting for the cheaper surgical masks as they take to the skies.

"It's just precaution. It's better to be safe than sorry," said Monette, a traveler from Maine who had her whole family kitted out in surgical masks. "We're hand washing, sanitizing hands all the time, and we do have the masks on just to make sure."

WBZ NewsRadio's Shari Small (@ShariSmallNews) reports:

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