Coronavirus outbreak: 2 people in New Hampshire being tested for virus

Coronavirus - What you need to know

NEW HAMPSHIRE — Two people in New Hampshire are undergoing testing for coronavirus, the virus that is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, and has killed more than 100 people worldwide.

Those two people recently traveled to Wuhan City and have developed respiratory symptoms, according to the New Hampshire Bureau of Infectious Disease Control.

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In an announcement on its Facebook page, Littleton Regional Healthcare said one of the patients is being quarantined in their facility. According to LRH, the patient is a student from White Mountain School in Bethlehem, N.H., who was presented to the hospital on Jan. 23 with mild, flu-like symptoms. The student had recently traveled to Hunan, China, in December and had returned to the United States on Jan. 6.

The hospital says it has been “following the CDC guidelines” by placing the patient in a “negative pressure intensive care room for treatment to prevent cross-contamination to other areas of the hospital” adding that they are "also following CDC recommended standard, contact and airborne precautions for healthcare providers.

It’s unclear what city, town or medical institution the other patient may be in, but we know they are in complete isolation as their samples, along with the other patient’s, have been sent to the CDC for further testing.

“These people have more mild illness, but both sought healthcare for their illnesses and are recovering,” the bureau said. “They remain isolated until test results are available. Samples have been sent to the CDC for testing."

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed five cases of coronavirus in the United States.

“The risk to our communities in New Hampshire is low, but we want to identify people who may be infected with this new coronavirus in order to prevent spread,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan in a release from the New Hampshire Bureau of Infectious Disease Control.

“We have recommended that healthcare providers conduct travel screenings and implement isolation practices for patients with a fever or respiratory illness who report travel to this affected region of China. This is a rapidly changing situation, and we remain committed to providing timely updates to residents of New Hampshire and our health care providers.”

The illness can be similar to pneumonia, posing the greatest risk to the elderly, children and those with weak immune systems.

“It’s very similar to the flu, and we are at the heart of flu season,” said Dr. Jennifer Lo, the Medical Director for the Boston Public Health Commission. “So fever, coughing or shortness of breath, those are the symptoms described with relation to the coronavirus. Those are the same symptoms that you would have with the flu.”

In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh says no cases of the virus have been reported in the city, but he and his team are monitoring the situation around the world and across the country closely and are ready for any emergency that may come.

“We are constantly assessing potential threats, and we’ll be ready in the case a virus does appear, so it doesn’t spread,” said Mayor Walsh.

Scientists believe humans contracted the virus from infected animals at a Chinese market. Since then, doctors and local leaders have urged those experiencing symptoms, especially those who have traveled internationally recently, to get checked out immediately.

“If you have flu-like symptoms and you’re not sure, you’re always best not to sit back and Google it,” said Dr. Lo.

Since it can be spread through the air, people can get infected quite easily and those who have been infected can spread the virus well before showing any symptoms at all.

However, New Hampshire officials reassure the public that, right now, the risk to people in these communities is low.

Stock photo of a hospital bed.
Stock photo of a hospital bed. (Flying Colours Ltd / DigitalVision / Getty Images)