Health Officials Offer General Illness and Flu Prevention Tips
ARLINGTON — The Arlington Health Department has been actively monitoring the global spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, and wishes to notify residents that the risk of catching the virus remains low.
Members of the Arlington Health Department have been in communication with the Massachusetts Department of Health (DPH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since January and continue to receive information on the status of the virus as it becomes available.
The Arlington Health Department works regularly to prepare for and prevent disease outbreaks, and this planning is done regionally and has been ongoing for approximately 15 years utilizing state and federal funds to ensure communities are ready in the event of a disease outbreak.
According to the 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 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.
“We’ve been very closely monitoring updates regarding COVID-19, but it’s very important that residents note that the risk of catching this virus is low,” said Natasha Waden, Public Health Director. “We are in the thick of flu season, however, and we encourage residents to practice habits to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. These include frequent hand washing, disinfecting frequently used surfaces and covering your coughs and sneezes. These are steps that help keep you, and everyone around you, healthy.”
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 Arlington Health Department 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.
The CDC recommends everyone six-months-old and older gets an annual flu vaccine, with few, rare exceptions. The Arlington Health Department also wishes to remind residents that it is not too late to get the flu vaccine, and vaccines are still available at the Arlington Health Department. To schedule an appointment, contact Public Health Nurse Jessica Kerr at 781-316-3140.