NH DHHS: Second presumed case of COVID-19 identified in NH, connected to first case

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An employee of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon was NH’s first confirmed case of coronavirus. File Photo

CONCORD, NH– The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has announced the second presumptive positive test result in New Hampshire for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new 2019 coronavirus. This individual is an adult male from Grafton County who was in close contact with the first person to test positive for COVID-19 and is currently isolated at home.

According to Dartmouth-Hitchcock spokesperson Audra Burns, the second patient is also an employee of the hospital.

“The individual is an adult male from Grafton County, New Hampshire, and like the first patient identified on Monday, March 2, this second patient is an employee of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. This latest case was in close contact with first patient who was diagnosed on Monday. When the second patient was identified as a close contact, they were sent into quarantine and remain there,” Burns said in a news release late Tuesday.

“Consistent with federal and state privacy laws, we will not disclose any personally identifying information about this latest patient. We can say that, as with the first patient identified on Monday, we have determined that this second patient has had no contact with patients. And as with the case confirmed on Monday, we are working with DHHS to determine close contacts with the second patient and are reaching out to those contacts to establish quarantine and monitoring by DHHS. We are continuing to work according to our Epidemic Response Plan and have accelerated our Incident Command System efforts to address the many issues coming from this rapidly developing public health situation,” Burns said.

DHHS is awaiting confirmation of two presumptive positive test results by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. DHHS has begun a contact investigation for the second person who tested positive. We expect additional cases may be identified that are related to this investigation.

The contact investigation for the first person identified as a presumptive positive case of the new coronavirus, COVID-19 was initiated as soon as the person was identified for testing. Through the course of the investigation, DHHS has determined that the first patient, despite having been directed to self-isolate, attended an invitation-only private event on Friday, February 28. DHHS has issued an official order of isolation to the first patient under RSA-141-C:11. DHHS is contacting attendees who had close contact with the person during the event and notifying them to follow the recommended 14-day self-isolation.


New Hampshire 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Summary Report

(updated March 3, 2020, 5:30 p.m.)
Number of Confirmed Case(s) 1
0
Number of Persons Being Tested (current, test pending) 2
4
Number of Persons Tested (current, presumptive positive)3
2
Number of Persons Tested (closed, tested negative)
6
1 Includes specimens confirmed by CDC confirmatory testing.

2 Includes specimens received and awaiting testing at NH Public Health Laboratories (PHL).

3 Includes specimens that have tested presumptive positive at NH PHL and are in route to CDC for confirmatory testing.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) has announced that the first person identified as a positive case is an employee. DHMC has identified staff who may have been exposed through close contact with the patient and will monitor those individuals’ self-monitoring or self-isolating. At this time, DHMC is not aware of exposure to any patients in clinical areas.

DHHS is managing the investigation into individuals in the community who may have been exposed to the virus. Any people determined to have been in close contact with the patient have been identified and are being notified. DHHS recommends that those individuals self-quarantine for 14 days after the day they were potentially exposed. Any person who develops fever or respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) should stay home away from other people and seek health advice by phone from either a healthcare provider or the NH DHHS at 603-271-4496 (after-hours 603-271-5300).

Any person who has not been contacted by DHHS but is concerned they may have been exposed to the virus should self-observe for symptoms. Instructions for people to self-observe for symptoms of COVID-19 are available here: https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/documents/2019-coronavirus-self-observation-guidelines.pdf.

If people develop symptoms such as fever or respiratory symptoms, they should contact a healthcare provider or the DHHS Division of Public Health Services at 603-271-4496.

DHHS continues to test for COVID-19 in the NH Public Health Laboratories. In addition to the presumptive positive test result, six tests have been conducted and identified as negative for the virus, and four tests are pending. DHHS is updating its website each morning by 9:00 am to include a current summary of testing actions.

Because COVID-19, and all respiratory illnesses, are most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, residents should take the same precautions as those recommended to prevent the spread of influenza:

  • Stay home and avoid public places when sick (i.e. social distancing)
  • Cover mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Avoid being within 6 feet (close contact) of a person who is sick
  • Avoid sharing drinks, smoking/vaping devices, or other utensils or objects that may transmit saliva
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces

For more information, please visit the DHHS COVID-19 webpage at https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/2019-ncov.htm.