The Rhode Island Department of Health is monitoring 40 people who had direct contact with a 40-year-old man who is the first person in Rhode Island to test positive for the strain of coronavirus that is causing worldwide concern. Here is a breakdown of some of the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19, the coronavirus disease.
– What are the symptoms of COVID-19, the coronavirus disease?
Fever, cough, shortness of breath.
– How soon after exposure do they appear?
As few as two days to as many as 14.
– How is it transmitted?
“Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)” or “through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
– Can it spread by other means?
Possibly by a person “touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads,” according to the CDC.
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– Can pets become infected?
“Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus,” the CDC wrote recently. Since then, a report of a dog infected in Hong Kong has surfaced. The dog tested “weak” positive.
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– Are there currently any confirmed cases in Rhode Island?
The Rhode Island Department of Health, RIDOH, on Sunday, March 1, announced the first “presumptive positive” report. Previously, RIDOH reported that two people in the state have been tested and 26 are being monitored.
– Has Massachusetts had a confirmed case?
Yes. This is “a man returning from Wuhan, China, who is in his 20s and lives in Boston” and is said to be recovering, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
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– What should you do if you believe you may have become infected?
“If someone has concerns, they should call their doctor,” said Rhode Island Department of Health spokesman Joseph Wendelken. “Based on a person’s travel history and their symptoms, a doctor will make a determination about the best next step.” More information at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html
– Where did the disease originate?
Wuhan, China, where it crossed over from animals to humans.
– How many countries/regions now have confirmed cases?
As of Sunday at noon, 68. Most are in China, with South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan and Germany witnessing large and growing numbers. Seventy-two-two cases are confirmed in the United States, including people returned to the country on State Department-chartered flights.
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– How many cases globally have been confirmed?
More than 87,000, as of Sunday at noon.
– How many deaths have resulted?
2,990, as of Sunday at noon.
– Who is at highest risk of dying?
Apparently the elderly and people who are already sick.
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– Where does “COVID-19” come from?
“The virus has been named ‘SARS-CoV-2’ and the disease it causes has been named ‘coronavirus disease 2019’ (abbreviated “COVID-19″),” explains the CDC.
– What preventive measures can be taken?
“The preparations to protect yourself and your loved ones against coronavirus are the same steps people should already be taking to protect against the flu,” the Rhode Island Health Department says. Additional measures and precautions are listed at www.ri.gov/press/view/37803
– Is there a vaccine?
– Has there been misinformation and falsehood circulated about COVID-19?
Yes, a lot, including published and social-media nonsense that the virus was created in a secret Chinese bioweapons lab. One prominent talk show host claimed, falsely, that “the coronavirus is the common cold.” NewsGuard, a New York City based independent analysis company, lists publications that have published rumors, lies and conspiracy theories: www.newsguardtech.com/coronavirus-misinformation-tracking-center/
– Is the World Health Organization working to combat misinformation?
Yes, through its COVID-17 “Myth Busters” site: www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters
– Where can I learn more?
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health: mass.gov/guides/information-on-the-outbreak-of-2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19
The Rhode Island Department of Health: health.ri.gov/covid
The CDC: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
The World Health Organization: www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
Sources: The CDC, Johns Hopkins University, the RI Department of Health, and the World Health Organization.
G. Waye Miler is a journalist with the Providence Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com or 401-277-7380. Follow him on Twitter: @gwaynemiller
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