Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientist shown implementing molecular testing. (CDC image)
In a health advisory to the Belmont School Department issued today, Feb. 28, town’s health officials said the chances of students catching the new respiratory illness known as COVID-19 is currently slight but those attending Belmont schools should take precautions.
The state “that the risk for COVID-19 continues to remain LOW with one confirmed case … in Massachusetts,” wrote Wesley Chin, Belmont’s Health Director in a memo released to the school district.
Due to the limited exposure to the illness statewide, Chin does not recommend wearing face masks or cancelling athletic or school events.
The memo comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn Americans that they should prepare for the possibility of an outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus as the new strain of flu continues to spread worldwide.
According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus which comes from a large family of viruses – which includes the common cold, flues and more severe respiratory illnesses – which may cause animals or humans to become sick.
Chin said the Belmont Health Department was sharing this updated information “to help keep it informed about the emerging global health concern” as it continues to monitor the latest information from the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The Belmont Health Department is following public health guidance provided by the CDC and MDPH, which “may include the monitoring of individuals who may be quarantined at home as needed.”
“As this situation continues to evolve, if any special instructions are provided, the Belmont Health Department will communicate them to the community,” said Chin.
Chin also list “some things you can do” to remain healthy:
Keep yourself and others healthy
- Wash your hands with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
Know the facts and help prevent the spread of rumors:
- Be sure you are using a reliable source for your information
- CDC updates its website frequently with information and guidance about COVID-19: www.cdc.gov/nCoV
- CDC continues to provide updates for travelers at:https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
- MDPH provides regular updates for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: https://www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus
- The Belmont Health Department will post community wide advisories on the Town of Belmont’s home page if there is a change in risk level: www.belmont-ma.gov
- Face masks are not recommended for the general public at this time.
- Face masks can be useful in some settings, such as a clinic waiting room, to prevent someone who has a respiratory illness from spreading it to others.
- Cancelling public events is not currently recommended as the risk for COVID-19
Please continue to remain calm and open-minded
History has seen many instances of societies excluding, blaming, or devaluing those feared to have an unfamiliar disease. Recent examples include Ebola, HIV, and past influenza pandemics where fear led to stigma and discrimination. In many instances, the discriminatory actions caused the health problems to worsen as those who felt alienated avoided seeking out health care and information they needed. We encourage you to continue to remain calm.
Contact your healthcare provider for all medical emergencies and health related concerns. All other questions may be directed to the Belmont Health Department at 617-993-2720.