The Board of Health and the Office of Public Health are sharing information to help educate the public about an emerging global health concern, the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, 2019-n-COv. This is a new strain of Coronavirus, first detected in Wuhan, China. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause respiratory illness in people.
As of February 7, 2020, twelve cases of 2019-n-COv have been identified in the United States. There is currently one confirmed case of infection in Massachusetts. We are continuing to track guidance and updates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH). MDPH has reiterated that risk to the general public in Massachusetts remains low.
The Office of Public Health is in regular, frequent contact with CDC and MDPH and we are prepared to respond to any updated directives from MDPH. State and local health officials take actions based on public health risk and scientific data. We are working closely with the Lexington Public Schools to make sure they also have the most accurate and up to date information.
To date, MDPH has taken the following actions:
- Established an Incident Command Structure to facilitate regular dissemination of information from federal and state partners to statewide stakeholders.
- Launched a new website that provides up-to-date information on the status of novel coronavirus for all residents: https://www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus.
- Developed and disseminated clinical advisories to all Massachusetts health care providers and issued guidance to hospitals, health systems, and Emergency Medical Services.
- Scheduled calls with other key health care partners including local boards of health.
Because we are in the midst of seasonal cold and flu season, it is important to emphasize the risk of exposure to seasonal influenza is a primary public health concern in Massachusetts at this time. We recommend people get their flu shot from their healthcare providers if they have not yet received one. There has been an uptick in seasonal influenza cases in recent weeks in Massachusetts and Lexington.
The following precautionary actions will help prevent exposure to any respiratory viruses, including seasonal influenza and Coronavirus:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water (20 seconds of scrubbing) or use alcohol-based hand cleaners (cover all surfaces and rub until dry).
- Cough/sneeze into a tissue. Dispose of used tissues immediately into a trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, which accelerates the spread of infections.
- Avoid close contact with others who are sick.
- If you are sick, seek health care, and avoid contact with others, including large social gatherings, meetings, and events.
As information and guidance are rapidly changing, please refer to the link to the CDC Traveler advisory below for the most up-to-date information.
Resources and More Information
Should you have any questions, please contact David Neylon, Public Health Nurse, at (781) 698-4509 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If the Public Health Nurse is not available, you may contact Kari Sasportas, Health Director, at (781) 698-4503 or email@example.com.