Coronavirus: What Boston's Doing To Prepare

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — At a press conference Monday afternoon, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, members of the Boston Public Health Commission, and Boston EMS discussed how the city is preparing should coronavirus come to Massachusetts.

At least 56 people have died from the virus in Wuhan, China, while some 2,029 others have been diagnosed since December. Over the weekend, a fourth and fifth U.S. case were confirmed—one in Los Angeles County, California, and another in Arizona.

But while two people in New Hampshire have been isolated and are undergoing testing for the virus after returning from China, there have been no cases in Boston.

"As of right now, there are no confirmed cases in Boston," Mayor Walsh said. "That being said, we are making sure that we take every single precaution to make our city safe and healthy. Our public health agencies are trained to respond to infectious diseases. We are constantly assessing potential threats, and will be ready in the case a virus does appear, so it doesn't spread."

Walsh said Bostonians should be alert, but not freaked out, about the virus—and public health officials said the public is far more likely to encounter the flu than the coronavirus.

Dr. Jennifer Lo, Medical Director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said some symptoms of the coronavirus mimic the flu.

"It's very similar to the flu, and we are in the heart of flu season," Dr. Lo said. "Fever, coughing, or shortness of breath, those are the symptoms that are described with relation to the coronavirus. Those are the same symptoms that you would have with the flu. Your best bet right now is to protect yourself against the flu and all viruses that we're subjected to at this time of the year."

Dr. Lo said the risk to the general public regarding coronavirus is low. She detailed the BPHC's "coordination, collaboration, and communication" plan.

"We've activated the BPHC Incident Command plan to coordinate the response," she said. "Through this incident command, we'll track and compile all the latest information and reports from all the agencies regarding any concerns about the novel coronavirus, and we will serve as a resource for providers and partners by sharing these situation reports."

Officials offered the following tips to stay healthy:

  • Wash hands
  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • Stay home when sick
  • Keep sick children home
  • Check in on those more vulnerable, like the elderly or those with disabilities

Walsh said Boston was lucky to have the best hospitals in the world right here.

"We are in the best position to respond if the virus does spread to the United States," he said.

WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports

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