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2nd Person Tests Positive For Novel Coronavirus In N.H.

State health officials have announced a second presumptive positive test result for the coronavirus disease in New Hampshire.

The patient is an adult male from Grafton County who had close contact with the the first person to test positive in New Hampshire, who also lives in Grafton County. He is currently isolated at home.

State health officials say they expect additional cases may be identified as they try to figure out other people that first person came into contact with. The state says the first person identified with coronavirus attended a social event last Friday despite being asked to self-quarantine.

The first patient is now being ordered to isolate under state law.

During a statewide conference call today that included more than 1,500 people, New Hampshire public health officials offered updated guidance to healthcare facilities and schools on how to respond to coronavirus.

State health officials fielded dozens of questions, including how schools should advise students returning from overseas travel.

Right now, the CDC and state public health officials are asking only people who have returned from China to stay at home for 14 days before going out in public. Some schools in New Hampshire have gone further, asking students returning from other countries, including Italy, to self-quarantine.

“Just to be clear, that is not a [Division of] Public Health recommendation that those individuals need to self-quarantine,” said Ben Chan, state epidemiologist. “The school districts have taken that step. We support the school districts in taking those steps, but individuals who have traveled [to countries] other than China, are not being asked to self-quarantine.”

Chan added that travelers from other countries with CDC travel advisories are being asked to self-monitor and report any symptoms to their health care provider. Guidance from CDC and state public health officials on who should self-quarantine could change as the situation develops.

Chan said now that the state can do its own coronavirus tests, they're expanding the criteria for who gets tested beyond the standard the CDC has been using. But they can't guarantee they'll be able to test every case as the illness progresses

“Likely, as this epidemic progresses, we're not going to be able to test everybody that may have risk factors and presents with any type of respiratory illness,” said Chan.

Chan told primary care providers the most important thing is to advise patients to remain at home when showing symptoms. Right now, four people in New Hampshire are being tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The state's first positive test result was announced Monday.

Beth Daly, head of the state's Bureau of Infectious Disease Control, also urged schools to begin making plans in case the coronavirus becomes widespread in the state.

“Residential schools in particular should be planning for the potential to isolate or quarantine students,” said Daly. “It needs to be a single room with access to a private bathroom, and then considering how you’re going to provide food and other basic needs.”

Health officials also warned schools to be on alert for bullying of students who have traveled abroad or who are of Asian descent.

This story first published on New Hampshire Public Radio.

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