From Scott Cluett, director of OEMS:
- The Department of Public Health issued a clinical advisory on January 22, 2020, which was shared with EMS via the HHAN. The advisory is posted on the Mass.gov website at https://www.mass.gov/clinical-advisory/update-and-interim-guidance-on-outbreak-of-2019-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-in.
- Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a website with general information about coronavirus, the response, and available resources at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html.
- The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) confirmed on Saturday (February 1) Massachusetts’ first case of 2019 novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), identified in Boston. We reiterate that the risk to Massachusetts residents at this time remains low.
EMS personnel should take standard, contact, and airborne precautions, including the use of eye protection, when evaluating patients who exhibit symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and who report recent travel to Wuhan or contact with a known novel coronavirus patient.
These precautions include:
- Wearing gloves, respiratory protection, and eye protection. Respiratory protection (i.e. a respirator) should be at least as protective as a fit-tested National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-certified disposable N95 filtering facepiece respirator.
- Placing a face mask over the nose and mouth on the patient, if tolerated
- Notifying the receiving hospital that the patient has recently traveled to Wuhan or has had contact with a known novel coronavirus patient
- Completing steps to clean and disinfect surfaces and patient care equipment in the ambulance
The CDC is developing infection prevention guidance for EMS providers and guidance on movement and monitoring considerations for healthcare personnel, which the Department will share with ambulance services once available.
The best prevention measures are the same as for the flu and other viruses: wash hands, cover coughs and sneezes, and stay home when feeling ill.