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North Carolina's first coronavirus case linked to Washington outbreak

The state lab positively tested a Wake County, North Carolina patient for coronavirus. The sample has been sent to the CDC for further confirmation.

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina has its first presumptive case of coronavirus, Governor Roy Cooper announced Tuesday afternoon.

The patient, who has not been publicly identified, is isolated at their Wake County home after returning from Washington state.

The test, conducted by North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health, is presumptively positive and will be confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lab.

The person is doing well and is in isolation at home, Cooper's office said. 

“I know that people are worried about this virus, and I want to assure North Carolinians our state is prepared,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “Our task force and state agencies are working closely with local health departments, health care providers and others to quickly identify and respond to cases that might occur.”

The North Carolina person from Wake County traveled to the State of Washington and was exposed at a long-term care facility where there is currently a COVID-19 outbreak. Local health department officials are identifying close contacts to monitor symptoms and contain the spread.

RELATED: 9 deaths, 27 cases of coronavirus in Washington state

While awaiting confirmation of results from the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will treat presumptive cases as positive and follow CDC guidelines to protect public health and limit the spread of infection.

RELATED: This interactive map shows all reported coronavirus cases in the world

Tuesday's announcement represents the only positive test for COVID-19  in North Carolina. Because COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, North Carolinians should take the same measures that healthcare providers recommend annually to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses, including washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, and covering coughs and sneezes.

On Tuesday, Gov. Cooper announced the NC State Laboratory of Public Health (NCSLPH) within the NC Department of Health and Human Services is now able to perform testing for the virus. This new capability allows North Carolina to more quickly take public health steps to respond to any positive test result. 

"Testing is already underway in our state lab and that means we get results faster," said Governor Roy Cooper. "Our public health leaders have been working around the clock to ensure that we are prepared."

Senator Thom Tillis issued the following statement on the first reported coronavirus in North Carolina: 

I’m in close communication with Vice President Pence and other federal leaders, and I will do everything I can to continue supporting our state’s medical institutions, universities, and health care systems, which are some of the best in the world and have a proven track record in treating infectious diseases.”


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