First case of coronavirus confirmed in Minnesota

The patient is elderly and lives in Ramsey County.
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The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed the first case of coronavirus in the state.

The department said the first "presumptive" case of the COVID-19 virus has been found in an elderly patient in Ramsey County.

The patient has recently been on a cruise ship where the virus had been confirmed in another patient. They began to develop symptoms on Feb. 25 and sought medical help on Thursday.

Tests quickly confirmed the COVID-19 infection, with the patient being kept in isolation at home. Health officials learned of the positive test result at approximately 12:40 p.m. Friday. 

Work is underway to identify those who have been in contact with the patient, and these people will be asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days. 

"This is very, very new. The person largely has been at home and just sought care yesterday. As far as we know, this is a person who has really not been out and about much. But as I said, we're very new into this investigation," said Dept. of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. 

The name of the cruise ship has not been revealed, nor has any airline that the patient may have traveled on. 

The MDH had said earlier on Friday that it had conducted 36 tests for coronavirus since the outbreak, all of which had been negative. More tests will be run over the weekend. 

One confirmed case was found in Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago and there have since been no further confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin. 

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"State and local public health officials are working hard to slow the spread of this virus and protect Minnesotans, but based on how the outbreak has developed elsewhere we need to be prepared for some level of community spread," Commissioner Malcolm said. 

"It is critical that all of us do our part to slow the spread of this virus by covering coughs, washing hands, and staying home when sick with cold or flu-like symptoms. We also need to prepare for community mitigation measures like telework arrangements and temporary school closures should they become necessary."

Health officials in Minnesota have long been prepared for the arrival of the virus, which they said was inevitable, and efforts will now focus on containing the spread.

Since reporting Monday that the State was in possession of two COVID-19 test kits, the Department of Health has received additional test kits. 

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