Director of Public Health Thomas Carbone and Town Manager Andrew Flanagan wish to provide residents with coronavirus prevention tips.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), there has been one confirmed case of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the state. The man who contracted the virus was returning from Wuhan, China and sought medical care shortly after his arrival in Massachusetts. According to the DPH, he is at home and recovering.
The risk of the 2019 novel coronavirus remains low for people in Massachusetts, according to the DPH. Andover health officials wish to remind residents that the flu is a far more prevalent concern, however, and that they should continue taking precautions to stay healthy. According to the DPH and Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences, between 20-25,000 people in Massachusetts visited the emergency room for flu symptoms between Sept. 20, 2019 and Jan. 25.
"We want residents to know that the risk of contracting the 2019 novel coronavirus is low, and the virus is not currently spreading among the public in the United States," Carbone said. "We are in the thick of flu season, however, and we want to remind everyone to wash their hands, cover any coughs or sneezes, avoid contact with those who are sick and to stay home when sick yourself."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), imported cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus in travelers have been detected in the U.S. Person-to-person spread of the virus also has been seen among close contacts of returned travelers from Wuhan, but at this time, the virus is not currently spreading in the community in the United States.
According to the DPH and CDC, symptoms of 2019 novel coronavirus include fever and respiratory illness, such as coughing and difficulty breathing. Symptoms of the virus are similar to those of seasonal flu.
Out of an abundance of caution, the Andover Health Division wishes to provide residents with recommended actions from the CDC to take to protect themselves and others from the illness:
- Wash hands frequently, with soap and water, for a minimum of 20 seconds.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizing gels and liquids if soap and water are not readily available.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Try to avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
- When sick yourself, stay home to protect others.
- Always cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect areas and objects that are touched frequently, such as desks, phones, door handles, etc.
The DPH is also advising anyone who has traveled to China within the past two weeks to monitor their health for symptoms of the virus for 14 days after arriving back in the United States, and to contact their healthcare provider should they develop symptoms. Before going to a medical appointment, anyone who believes they might have the virus is asked to first tell their healthcare provider about their possible exposure to the 2019 novel coronavirus.
Public health officials are continuing to learn more information about this latest strain of coronavirus, and for the most up-to-date information, visit the DPH’s website here or the CDC’s website here.