BURLINGTON, MA — Burlington’s Board of Health has offered tips on preventing exposure to the new coronavirus. There has been one confirmed case of the new virus, COVID-19, in the state, and over 81,000 globally, mostly in China. The one case in Massachusetts is a man returning from Wuhan, China, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
“Coronaviruses are respiratory viruses and are generally spread through respiratory secretions (droplets from coughs and sneezes) of an infected person to another person,” according to the town announcement. “Symptoms of novel coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and, in severe cases, pneumonia (fluid in the lungs).”
In an announcement Tuesday, state health officials maintained that it isn’t the time to worry in Massachusetts.
“The risk to residents in Massachusetts remains low,” the Massachusetts Department of Health said Tuesday. “While person-to-person spread among close contacts has been detected with this virus, at this time this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.”
That announcement came shortly after the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention said Americans should prepare for the spread of coronavirus.
“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” a CDC official said.
The Board of Health announcement notes that we are at the peak of annual cold and flu season, with over 10,000 estimated flu deaths nationwide already this season. The following precautions help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses including both the flu and the new coronavirus.
- “Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol-basedhand sanitizers and rub till completely dry.
- Cough/sneeze into a tissue and dispose the tissue immediately into a trash can. If youdon’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with others who are sick.
- If you are sick stay home, seek health care, and avoid contact with others such asmeetings and events.
- Clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces.”
The Board of Health cites three recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control of what not to do:
- “Do not travel to China.
- Do not use facemasks. CDC does not recommend the use of facemasks for the general public to prevent the spread of 2019-nCoV.
- Do not show prejudice to people of Asian descent, because of fear of this new virus. Do not assume that someone of Asian descent is more likely to have 2019-nCoV.”
The town also provided links with regularly updated information on the virus, including:
Regular status reports from the World Health Organization are also available here.
Christopher Huffaker can be reached at 412-265-8353 or firstname.lastname@example.org.