Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update - January 27

At Simmons, we are closely monitoring the outbreak of a novel coronavirus (“2019-nCoV”) that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Health officials have reported more than 2,000 infections coronavirus in China and in a growing number of international locations. In the US, 5 cases have been confirmed in four states (AZ, CA, IL, WA), all involving travelers returning from Wuhan. At this time, there have been no confirmed infections in Boston. We are gathering all relevant information to keep our community informed and updated about this rapidly evolving situation.

1. What are Coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause symptoms ranging from the common cold to severe respiratory illness. Certain coronaviruses can infect animals, which occasionally spread from animals to humans. These viruses can then evolve to spread from person-to-person.

2. How does this virus spread?

The outbreak in Wuhan, China is linked to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting initial animal-to-person spread. There is now evidence that person-to-person spread is occurring, however it is not yet clear how easily coronavirus spreads from person-to-person. Spread likely occurs via respiratory droplets produced from coughing or sneezing, similar to influenza and other respiratory illnesses.

3. What are the symptoms?

Fever, difficulty breathing, and cough are the most common symptoms of coronavirus.

4. Members of the Simmons Community returning from travel to China

Anyone who recently returned from a China, particularly the Wuhan area, should monitor for symptoms up to 14 days following their return. If fever or respiratory symptoms develop during that time period, please wear a mask as soon as possible and seek medical attention.

If you develop symptoms of coronavirus within 14 days of travel to China, please call Simmons Health Services at 617-521-1020 to talk to a nurse, who can review your symptoms and give you advice about what to do.

As you know, it is cold and flu season, and there is influenza activity in the Boston area (unrelated to coronavirus). We recommend these simple steps to help you stay healthy this winter:

  • If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, it’s not too late. Call Simmons Health Services for an appointment for a flu shot, or go to any area pharmacy or urgent care center.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue, if possible, and dispose of used tissues immediately in the trash. If no tissue is available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hand.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others including parties, meetings, and events.

For further information about the coronavirus and current information on the situation, please visit the CDC Novel Coronavirus website.

For information on seasonal flu, visit the CDC Influenza website.

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