Virus sufferer’s ‘incredible selfishness’
A hospital worker who became the first coronavirus patient in the US state of New Hampshire ignored instructions to self-isolate and attended a college's business event instead, authorities have revealed.
At least one person who came into contact with the man has since become the Granite State's second confirmed case, health officials confirmed.
The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Centre staffer displayed symptoms of the deadly virus, including "fever and respiratory symptoms", after returning from a trip to Italy, and was told to stay home while waiting test results, which came back positive on Monday, according to a New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) spokesperson.
"DHHS has determined that the first patient, despite having been directed to self-isolate, attended an invitation-only private event on Friday," the spokesperson said in a statement.
Having defied the first directive, the hospital worker was "issued an official order of isolation" after testing positive on Monday, officials said.
Both affected individuals are now isolated at home and the state's health department is getting in touch with everyone "who had close contact with the person during the event and notifying them to follow the recommended 14-day self-isolation," the statement said.
Meanwhile, social media users slammed the hospital worker for having defied initial orders.
"What an incredible display of selfishness from this NH Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital employee," one person wrote.
"People are dying, but gotta party, so worth it."
Another wrote: "This is how this virus will spread more than it should - pure selfishness of those who may be infected."
"If told to stay home, stay home! You could kill someone like me," a separate post read.
So apparently someone in New Hampshire, who is the 1st person in the state to have coronavirus, was told to stay isolated but went to an event instead 😑😑 what is wrong with y’all?— Britt🖤 (@brittaluscious) March 4, 2020
Dartmouth College emailed staff and students to confirm that the patient went to the event run by its Tuck School of Business. It was not immediately clear how many others were in attendance.
"An investigation of those who were in close contact with that individual is under way and all close contacts have been notified," the college co-chairs wrote in the warning.
"At this time, there are no Dartmouth students considered to be close contacts," the email said while conceding it was a "stressful time for many people in our community".
The event was held at a popular Vermont music venue, the Engine Room in White River Junction, which said in a Facebook post that it had "a professional cleaning company coming in to take care of this".
"We at The Engine Room want to let you know that around 8am this morning the NH Health Dept/Dr Chan called to inform us that the individual who tested positive for the coronavirus was at an event last Friday night," the post read.
"We just want to let the public know we are taking this seriously and following all the recommendations of the VT & NH Health Departments."
Dartmouth-Hitchcock hospital confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that the second positive case involved a male employee, but insisted both men "had no contact with patients".
RELATED: Steps to avoid coronavirus
According to The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, most US states have "police power functions to protect the health, safety and welfare of persons within their borders".
That includes the enforcement of laws to require isolation (when a person is sick) or quarantine (when a person isn't sick but has been exposed to a pathogen).
The CDC said most states regard breaking a quarantine order as a criminal misdemeanour.