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A possible coronavirus case in Philly is under investigation, city health department says

Testing is being done by the Pennsylvania state lab in Chester County.

A lab worker preparing research samples.
A lab worker preparing research samples.Read moreSTR / AP

» UPDATE: Philly patient tests negative for coronavirus

A possible case of coronavirus in Philadelphia is under investigation, the city Department of Public Health confirmed Tuesday night.

“The Philadelphia Department of Public Health is listing someone as a Person Under Investigation for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. Testing is being done right now and we hope to learn the results soon,” said department spokesperson James Garrow in an email.

If confirmed, it would be the first official case in Philadelphia.

The city was not offering more details about the case being tested, but Garrow explained some of the process in a telephone interview.

Two prior possible cases in Philadelphia were tested weeks ago and came back negative. Those tests were conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania health officials announced they are now able to test for the coronavirus and this latest possible was sent to the state lab in Chester County.

When and why suspected cases were sent for testing has evolved. Before last week, testing was done on suspected cases that involved recent travel to China, other places where the coronavirus was spreading, or if the person had been in contact with another person with a confirmed case.

Now possible cases that are tested include people who have unexplained severe respiratory problems and are in a hospital or other healthcare setting.