Photo: Wesley Chinn, director of Belmont Health Department, speaking before the Select Board.
Despite the first cases of Massachusetts residents contracting the novel coronavirus in the past two days, the chance of Belmont residents coming down with the remains quite low according to the town’s health officials.
“[W]e are pleased to report that as of 3 p.m. this afternoon [Monday], the risk for coronavirus remains low in Massachusetts,” said Wesley Chin, the director of the Belmont Health Department, who updated the came before the Select Board on Monday, March 2.
As of Monday, “[t]here are no cases in Belmont,” said Belmont Assistant Fire Chief Wayne Haley.
“Were monitoring continuously and just try to calm the nerves of people that just don’t know what to believe what they see on the news,” he noted.
Chin said as “this is a rapidly evolving situation,” his department met Monday with the town’s Emergency Management team consisting of representatives of the Fire and Police departments, town administration and representative the schools.
Haley, who is the town’s Risk Management director, said he and other town health officials have had two hour-long phone calls with the state’s Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control to discuss how towns and departments will address all situations involving the coronavirus.
“From the fire department, we are prepared to respond for any emergency calls,” said Haley.
“We have specialized kits to deal with [the coronavirus], if need be. Dispatchers have been trained to screen all calls to try to get as much information as possible or possible exposure,” said Haley.
In addition, venerable populations to the coronavirus – the elderly and residents with prior health conditions – which include residents at the assisted living complex Belmont Manor and McLean Hospital will be contacted by the Health Department, said Chin.
Both Haley and Chin said the public is best served by following the CDC’s advice on general prevention methods which include:
- Frequent washing of your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap.
- Avoid touching your nose and mouth.
- Stay at home if you have flu-like symptoms and contact your physician. “That is the best way to stop the virus,” said Chin.
According to Belmont’s Public Nurse David Neylon, symptoms include fever, shortness of breath and coughing.