A patient with symptoms of COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, was recently tested at Emerson Hospital.

According to Dr. Barry Kitch, chief medical officer at Emerson, the patient self-identified and said they had recently traveled abroad.

“The patient called the hospital in advance, so we were able to take all precautions when the patient came to the ED to be tested,” Kitch said in a statement. “The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) results indicate that the patient has tested presumptive positive and the specimen was sent to the Centers for Disease Control for confirmation.”

Kitch said the hospital determined all protective measures were followed by staff. The MDPH confirmed there was no known exposure to others.

"The team followed protocols and made every precautionary measure to protect patients, visitors and staff and the Emerson team who interacted with the patient will not require quarantine," he said. "The patient, who presented with mild symptoms, is now home under quarantine. There is no patient with COVID-19 currently at Emerson Hospital."

Kitch said the hospital continues to work  with MDPH and CDC to ensure it is best positioned to care for its patients and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Of the five new cases announced March 7, four are people from Middlesex County: one woman in her 40s, one woman in her 50s, one man in his 40s, and another man in his 60s.

Emerson Hospital did not immediately say whether its patient was male or female. The hospital said it could not say from which town the patient lives in.

Dr. Scott Paparello, an infectious disease specialist at Emerson Hospital and Acton Medical Associates, said there are no new recommendations regarding prevention.

"It will get worse. Time to start thinking about social distancing, avoiding crowded areas if feasible and good hand hygiene," he said. "Most importantly if one is sick they should stay home and contact their physician if they feel the need for medical advice or evaluation."

Schools update

Superintendent Laurie Hunter announced on Monday, March 9, that none of the coronavirus cases have a direct link to Concord Public Schools or Concord-Carlisle Regional High School.

She said CCHS election to cancel an event on March 7 host senior citizens given Department of Health guidance not to have large numbers of elderly gather together. 

"To date, this is the only large group event to be canceled," she said. "Also, in accordance with the Commissioner of Education’s directive, all international (travel) is suspended for the remainder of the school year. Domestic travel will be reviewed in upcoming weeks."

On March 9, all students had a "developmentally appropriate discussion" with their teachers as to how school is safe and best practices in self care as a means to reduce any anxiety around being in school.

Massachusetts cases

MDPH reported on Monday, March 9,  the total number of positive test results in the Commonwealth rose to 41. That puts Massachusetts fourth on the list of U.S. cases per state.

Public health authorities are  not recommending cancellation of mass gatherings, such as the Boston Marathon, due to the low risk of infection.

Background

According to the CDC, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses  common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and now with this new virus (named SARS-CoV-2).

In early reporting, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to large seafood and live animal markets, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread, the CDC says.

The risk to the general public from these outbreaks depends on the characteristics of the virus, the CDC says, including how well it spreads between people, the severity of resulting illness, and the medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus. That this disease has caused severe illness, including illness resulting in death, is concerning, the CDC says, especially since it has also shown sustained person-to-person spread in several places.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.