A student at The White Mountain School in Bethlehem, N.H., who recently traveled to China is one of two people being tested for coronavirus in New Hampshire, officials said.
Littleton Regional Healthcare posted a statement on Facebook that said the student returned to the United States on Jan. 6 and came to the hospital with “mild flu-like symptoms” on Jan. 23.
Hospital officials said they were working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine whether or not this is a confirmed case of the coronavirus, and expect to receive a diagnosis from the CDC on Tuesday or Wednesday.
“Following the CDC guidelines for infection control, the patient has been placed in a negative pressure intensive care room for treatment to prevent cross-contamination to other areas of the hospital,” officials wrote on Facebook. "LRH is also following the CDC recommended standard, contact, and airborne precautions for healthcare providers.
Public health officials have been closely monitoring the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus (known as ’2019-nCoV') that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.
On Tuesday officials at Littleton Regional Healthcare shared another post on Facebook assuring the public that there was no threat to patients or visitors at the hospital.
“From the moment we were notified that the patient was being transported to LRH, we followed all CDC recommendations to mitigate risk to any other patients and the public at large,” the Facebook post said. “We have continued to follow CDC recommendations and guidelines for infection control precautions, just as we do for any Influenza type virus. We do encourage individuals to be vaccinated against Influenza every year. There is no risk to public health by being in our building. We have no concerns about operations continuing.”
John A. Drew, the head of school at The White Mountain School, also sent a letter to the school community to address their concerns.
“Out of concern for their peers and the broader community, this student quickly isolated themselves and later requested transportation to Littleton Urgent Care at Littleton Regional Healthcare (LRH),” Drew said in the statement. “LRH personnel, out of an abundance of caution, put the student into medical quarantine and submitted specimens for testing for 2019-nCoV to the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services (DPHS), that were then sent to the CDC. We have been working closely with the DPHS and LRH, to understand and ensure adherence to the experts’ recommended protocols and guidance.”
Drew praised the student for taking “precautionary and immediate steps after developing symptoms” and said the school has been in frequent contact with the student and the student’s family.
“We are proud to host to a vibrant cohort of international students here at White Mountain, a number of whom are from China,” Drew wrote. “At this time, none of our other international students have reported symptoms associated with the 2019-nCoV, nor has any other member of the White Mountain community. The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of the 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 after exposure. As our students returned from winter break on January 6 and 7, we are just past that window. As such, it is very unlikely that any of our students were exposed to the 2019-nCoV during their travel to the U.S.”
Luis Ruuska, a spokesman for The White Mountain School, said that school records indicate that the student may have traveled to or through Hubei Province at some point during winter break, between Dec. 21 and Jan. 5.
“The White Mountain School continues to work closely with the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services (DPHS), and we have been following their requests regarding the dissemination of information," Ruuska wrote in an email Tuesday. "As soon as we have the test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we will update our community and others according to those requests.”
On Monday the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services reported that two people in New Hampshire who recently traveled to Wuhan City, China, and developed respiratory symptoms were undergoing testing for the coronavirus.
“These people have more mild illness, but both sought healthcare for their illnesses and are recovering,” state health officials said in the statement. “They remain isolated until test results are available. Samples have been sent to the CDC for testing. If testing confirms a case of novel coronavirus in New Hampshire, DPHS will share that information and protective recommendations with both the affected parties and the public as quickly as possible.”