BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - A 48-year-old Berkeley Heights resident is among the five new presumed cases of coronavirus, announced Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver in a press conference on Monday. 

The outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus was first detected in China; the virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).

The onset of the Berkeley Heights resident’s symptoms was March 1, said State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli during the press conference. The individual is inpatient at Overlook Medical Center. Exposure was symptomatic, he had friends who traveled from Milan. Those friends tested negative for COVID-19. The situation remains under investigation.

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The state is focused on testing individuals who are symptomatic who have been exposed.

As of today, 24 people in New Jersey are “under investigation” and in the que to be tested in the state labs, Persichilli said. That does not include any cases pending in commercial labs.

“The fact that we are continuing to see additional cases is concerning but it’s not unexpected,” she added. “It follows the trend we are seeing in the rest of the country, and the world.”

Oliver stressed that the overall risk to the average New Jersey resident remains low. She said New Jersey will continue to work with neighboring states and partner with the federal government throughout the response to the outbreak.

Health officials emphasize that the best way residents can protect themselves from coronavirus is by practicing safe respiratory hygiene. People who believe they have come into contact with the disease are asked to self-report and self-quarantine for 14 days.  They should also practice social distancing measures, which includes restricting when and where people can gather to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. Social distancing measures include limiting exposure to large groups of people.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC),

While information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild, older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions — like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. Learn more about the symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Township of Berkeley Heights updates can  be found on their website.

Please check the Berkeley Heights School District’s COVID-19 information page here.

Get the latest summary from the CDC directly here. 

Click here to read more about what you need to know about COVID-19.

Click here to read about what you should do if you think you’re sick with COVID-19

Patients with confirmed nCoV infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. CDC believes at this time that symptoms of nCoV may appear in as few as two days or as long as two weeks after exposure.

When a new disease is circulating, it’s natural for people to ask what they can do to protect themselves and their families. The best guidance at this point is to take the same precautions recommended for avoiding colds and flu: People should stay home when they are sick, cover their cough and practice good hand washing.

For more information regarding this new virus, please visit the New Jersey Department of Health’s website or call the NJDOH Novel Coronavirus Call Center at 800-222-1222. The call center is open to the public 24/7 and can accommodate callers in multiple languages.