Health Officials Offer General Illness and Flu Prevention Tips
GLOUCESTER — As federal and state health officials continue to monitor the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus internationally, Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken and Public Health Director Karin Carroll wish to remind residents that the risk of catching the virus remains low.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) contracting the flu is far more likely than COVID-19. The DPH announced the state’s first, and currently only, case of the the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on Feb. 1. The man who contracted the virus was returning from Wuhan, China and sought medical care shortly after his arrival in the state.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed Wednesday that a new patient in California has contracted COVID-19, and may be the first case of community spread of the virus in the United States.
“The risk of contracting COVID-19 is low, although as health officials across the globe continue to monitor the situation, it can feel very concerning to residents,” Carroll said. “At this time, however, the flu is a far more prevalent concern, and the same steps we advise to prevent the flu — frequent hand washing, covering your cough, and so on — also help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses like COVID-19.”
Mayor Romeo Theken’s team, including members of the Health Department, Gloucester Public Schools and Public Safety officials for the City, have been reviewing plans and taking steps to ensure the City of Gloucester is prepared locally in the event a case of the COVID-19 virus is identified or suspected in the community.
As of Feb. 3, only 11 airports have been accepting travelers from mainland China in the U.S., none of which are in Massachusetts, according to the DPH. Those arriving at those airports are also being screened for the virus.
According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus appear within 2-14 days of exposure. The DPH reports that symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath and pneumonia in severe cases.
At this time, the DPH is not recommending people wear masks in public as the risk to the public remains low and there is no substantial evidence suggesting wearing a mask protects an individual outside of preventing someone from spreading a respiratory illness to others in a clinic waiting room.
In an effort to prevent the spread of flu, colds and other respiratory illnesses, the City of Gloucester wishes to provide residents with recommended actions from the DPH:
- Wash hands frequently, with soap and water, for a minimum of 20 seconds.
- When sick yourself, stay home to protect others.
- Always cover your cough or sneeze