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Boston officials holding community meeting in Chinatown on coronavirus


Boston officials are holding a community meeting Friday in Chinatown to address concerns and share information about the coronavirus, the novel illness that has rapidly spread since it was first detected in December in Wuhan, China. 

The first case of the 2019 novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, in Massachusetts was confirmed on Saturday in a UMass Boston student who had recently returned from a trip to Wuhan. Officials said he sought care as soon as he returned to the Bay State and has remained isolated in a “self-quarantine” until he is cleared by public health officials.

“The risk to the public from the 2019 novel coronavirus remains low in Massachusetts,” officials said

There have been thousands of confirmed cases of the virus in more than 20 counties, with the majority diagnosed in China. Last week, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” and the U.S. State Department issued a “do not travel” advisory for China. 

The community meeting on Friday will be held at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School on Washington Street at 6:30 p.m. The event will be held in English and Cantonese. 

“Be updated on this infection and what steps are recommended to stay healthy,” city officials wrote. 

The new virus, 2019-nCoV, comes from the coronavirus family, which includes strains responsible for illnesses ranging from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). So far, it is believed that the virus spreads person-to-person mainly through respiratory secretions — the droplets produced through sneezes and coughs — similar to flu, but is remains unclear how easily it spreads.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is believed that the virus symptoms — which include mild to severe fever, cough, shortness of breath, and, in severe cases, pneumonia — may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. 

Officials have said that it appears older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at higher risk for the virus’s more severe complications. 

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