The  Health Department and the public schools sent out  alerts on Friday letting the community know a parent whose children attend Upham Elementary School and the Wellesley Middle School  had tested positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus.)

The family is following quarantine protocol provided by the state Department of Public Health. The children have shown no signs of the illness.

As a precaution, the Wellesley Public Schools (WPS) released students early at the two schools in order to  sanitize both buildings, according to David Lussier, superintendent. All other Wellesley Public Schools completed the day on a regular schedule.

The schools were working with METCO on plans for any  students affected by this closure who live in Boston.

Wellesley Board of Health release

 

The Wellesley case is one of three presumed positive cases in Norfolk County  linked to a recent Biogen event, the health department said. "This individual was identified by the company as having close contact with a person who became ill after the meeting."

The Wellesley Health Department said it is continuing to work closely with Wellesley Public Schools, town officials and Mass DPH on this issue.

Nine things to know about coronavirus

What is it?

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause disease in both animals and humans. They get their name for the distinctive crown-like spikes on the virus surface. While the virus typically causes mild cases of the common cold, it can bring on respiratory infections like pneumonia. The current coronavirus disease, officially known as COVID-19 (COVID-19 is the name of the disease, and SARS -CoV-2 is the name of the virus that causes it), was first reported in late December 2019 in Wuhan, China.

 

What are the symptoms and how long does it last?

Symptoms for COVID-19, which may appear two to 14 days after exposure, include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and in severe cases, pneumonia (fluid in the lungs). The illness has been estimated to last between two to three weeks for those infected.

 

How serious is the virus?

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. The mortality rate is reported at about 2 percent in the center of the outbreak in China, and less than that elsewhere. For comparison, seasonal flu typically has a mortality rate below 1 percent and is thought to cause about 400,000 deaths worldwide annually. The 2002/2003 SARS epidemic had a death rate of more than 10 percent.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), the risk to residents in Massachusetts remains low. There has been one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. On March 2, DPH announced the first presumptive positive case identified by the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory. CDC will conduct additional testing to confirm this possible second case.

 

How does it spread?

Coronaviruses are respiratory viruses and are generally spread between people in close contact with one another (within 6 feet) and through respiratory secretions (droplets from coughs and sneezes) of an infected person to another person.

It may also be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. People with the coronavirus are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic and sick.

 

How to prevent the spread:

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).The best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure to the virus. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following to prevent the spread of any respiratory disease, including the COVID-19.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. But those who are sick or have symptoms should wear facemasks to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.

 

Is there a treatment?

There is no specific treatment for this novel coronavirus. Antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections are not effective in treating viral infections like COVID-19. Antiviral medications are being used, but their efficacy is not known at this time.

 

What to do if you are sick/have symptoms:

Call a healthcare professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as a cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread. Tell your doctor about your recent travel or contact. Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for coronavirus. Other steps to take:

 

Stay home except to get medical care Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home Call ahead before visiting your doctor Wear a facemask Cover your coughs and sneezes Clean your hands often Avoid sharing personal household items Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday Monitor symptoms and seek medical attention if your illness is worsening. Patients with confirmed COVID-19 should remain under home isolation precautions until the risk of secondary transmission to others is thought to be low; a decision that should be made in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.

 

Where are the outbreaks occurring?

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. International Areas with Sustained (Ongoing) Transmission include China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea. As of March 3, the outbreak has affected more than 89,000 people globally, with a total death toll in excess of 3,000. The coronavirus has spread to more than 60 other countries. The worst affected include South Korea with nearly 5,000 cases, and Iran, with more than 1,500 cases.

Stay informed about the coronavirus:

Visit the Massachusetts Department of Health website for the latest local information on COVID-19.

For information on the coronavirus in the U.S. check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Watch this World Health Organization video for more things to know about COVID-19.

Sources: https://www.cdc.gov/, https://www.mass.gov, www.theguardian.com/, https://health.usnews.com/, https://www.yalemedicine.org