Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update - February 5

We are writing to provide an update on the novel (new) coronavirus (2019-nCoV). On January 30, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency, reflecting concern about the potential for spread in countries with fewer public health resources. Currently, more than 24,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide, including 12 confirmed cases in the United States.

As you likely heard over the weekend, the first case of the 2019 novel coronavirus in Massachusetts has been confirmed in a student returning to Boston from Wuhan, China. The student appropriately sought medical care soon after his return to Massachusetts. He has been isolated since that time and will continue to remain isolated until cleared by public health officials. His few close contacts have been identified and are being monitored for any symptoms.

Simmons Health Services continues its efforts to be as prepared as possible to identify, isolate and care for any patients with possible 2019-nCoV. A multidisciplinary team is meeting regularly to ensure we have the protocols and supplies necessary to care for patients and protect the community at large.

What You Need to Know

While the outbreak continues to be monitored closely, please keep in mind that the risk for acquiring 2019-nCoV infection in the U.S. remains low. Members of our community are significantly more likely to get sick with the flu or other common respiratory viruses.

How to Protect Yourself

As with many other respiratory viruses, 2019-nCoV is spread by coughing, sneezing and close contact in crowded places. Prevention measures are similar to those for most other respiratory viral illnesses, such as influenza. To help stop the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Clean your hands frequently
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Stay home and avoid close contact with others if you are sick

For additional information about 2019-nCoV, please visit the CDC Novel Coronavirus website.

Simmons will continue to monitor the situation and work with our partners to share information with our community as it becomes available.