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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information: What You Need to Know

Partners HealthCare at Home's Response to the Coronavirus

The coronavirus situation is very fluid, and we are doing everything we can to provide you with the most up to date information. Rest assured that there are many leaders and experts from across Partners HealthCare at Home and Mass General Brigham who have been working tirelessly to ensure that we have the best possible plans, protocols and resources in place to protect patients, colleagues and our community. We continue to coordinate with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and state public health officials as we take all necessary precautions to prepare us for providing safe care to anyone who presents with COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know:

What is the Coronavirus?

The cause of this outbreak has been identified as a novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause symptoms ranging from the common cold to severe respiratory illness. Certain coronaviruses can infect animals, which occasionally spread from animals to humans, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). These viruses can then also evolve to spread among people.

This new strain of coronavirus appears to have rapidly evolved to more easily transmit from person to person.

How did this outbreak occur?

Initial cases with this infection were thought to be associated with a live animal market in Wuhan City, China. However, not all subsequent cases have had this exposure.

The number of infections and subsequent deaths from the novel coronavirus have climbed daily. In order to prevent the spread of the virus, screening of travelers from China has been instituted at multiple U.S. airports. At this time, the CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel to China, Italy, Iran, Japan and South Korea. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency to highlight the spread of this infection and support prevention efforts.

What is the current situation?

The situation is rapidly evolving with new information updated daily. Even with a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in Massachusetts, the risk to the public is still low.

What can be done to prevent the spread of coronavirus?

As always, hand and respiratory hygiene are the best way to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. We recommend the following:

  • Frequent handwashing with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • When coughing or sneezing, cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or tissue. Wash your hands after.
  • Avoid close contact with individuals who have a fever or cough.

Please note, the facemasks that are available for purchase at your local drug store are not appropriate for protecting yourself from the coronavirus. Practicing hand hygiene is your best defense.  

How do I know if I should be evaluated for coronavirus?

If you develop a fever and cough or shortness of breath, you should contact your health care provider. If you have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from the identified countries listed above, you should also contact your health care provider. The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of the new coronavirus may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your health care provider.

Additional information is available on the CDC and WHO websites.