In nearby Massachusetts, 608 people are under “self-quarantine,” for possible exposure to the COVID-19 coronavirus. Steve LeBlanc of CBS Boston reports:
BOSTON (AP) — Public health officials in Massachusetts said Wednesday that they have been monitoring more than 600 people under self-quarantine in the state looking for possible symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.
Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said 608 people have been under self-quarantine in their homes. Of those, 377 have already completed their monitoring and have been released without symptoms.
Another 231 are still being monitored and remain self-quarantined. That monitoring typically extends over a 14-day period during which the individuals monitor their health. If there are no symptoms after that period, the individual is determined to be in the clear.
There has been a single case of coronavirus in Massachusetts. The man, who is in his 20s and a student at the University of Massachusetts Boston, had recently traveled to Wuhan, China, and sought medical care soon after his return.
“That patient is doing well and continues to recover in self-quarantine,” Bharel told reporters.
The virus and the small outbreak in the state are having an effect on Boston’s Chinatown. Beth Germano reports for CBS Boston:
Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood also continues to be hit hard by virus fears even as health officials continue to stress the risk is low. China Pearl should be bustling with customers at lunchtime, but in the near empty restaurant, the Taiwanese Consul General is networking with community members about the need for business.
Chinatown isn’t the only Boston institution facing challenges from the COVID-19 coronavirus. Boston is perhaps America’s most successful college town, and has a large population of foreign university students. Getting them home for the holidays has become an increasingly difficult prospect in the face of the coronavirus. The Boston Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes reports:
Colleges and universities are bracing for significant disruptions to their day-to-day operations from the coronavirus that could affect how they teach, what programs they offer in the summer, and how many international students enroll on campus in the fall.
On Thursday, Harvard University announced that it had barred all travel by students and faculty to mainland China and South Korea, except in rare circumstances approved by its top leadership.
Northeastern University asked its faculty and staff to fill out a survey on how they would work remotely, if necessary, so that officials could plan for technology needs. Northeastern also told its faculty to start preparing to teach classes online, in case classroom teaching has to be halted.
“The time to prepare is now,” Kenneth W. Henderson, Northeastern’s chancellor and senior vice president for learning, wrote to faculty and staff in a message Thursday. “The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak requires Northeastern University to be prepared and resilient to ensure learning and business continuity in the event that students, faculty and staff may not be able to come to campus or attend classes in person.”
There is also growing fear at many institutions that as a result of the near lockdown in some parts of China, there may be fewer Chinese students prepared to come to the United States in the fall. US colleges and universities are in the midst of their admissions cycle and will soon be locking in students for the next school year, but they may not have the crucial English-language tests from Chinese students to determine if they are qualified. In China, large-scale testing has been postponed due to concerns that the virus would more easily spread when groups congregate.
Additionally, recruiters who help US colleges find international students have reported consulting with fewer students in China in recent weeks and expect to see a decline of those studying abroad.
China, by far, sends the largest share of international students to American colleges and universities, nearly 370,000 students in the 2018-19 school year.
That’s right in our backyard. What should you do when coronavirus pops up in your backyard? Here’s what the CDC recommends for you at a minimum before and during a pandemic:
Before a Pandemic
- Store a two week supply of water and food.
- Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.
- Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
- Get copies and maintain electronic versions of health records from doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other sources and store them, for personal reference. Get help accessing electronic health records.
- Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.
During a Pandemic
Limit the Spread of Germs and Prevent Infection
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.