A 40-year old Rhode Island man who became the first resident to test “presumptively positive” for the coronavirus following a school trip to Europe in mid-February remains hospitalized in stable condition, state health officials said Monday morning.
A teenager also on the trip with Saint Raphael Academy, in Pawtucket, who also tested positive for the respiratory virus, known as COVID-19, remains at home with mild symptoms, the state’s health director, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, said. A woman in her 30s who was on the same trip also is being tested, she said. The woman is on the staff of Achievement First Academy, a charter school in Providence. She also remains at home with mild symptoms.
They are among 38 people -- mostly students and chaperones -- who were on the high school trip to Italy, France and Spain trip Feb. 14 - 22, Alexander-Scott said
Health officials are cautioning school officials about traveling in Europe but have stopped short advising them to cancel trips. That's "something that we're actively exploring," Alexander-Scott said.
All 38 of the people on the school trip will be self-monitoring for symptoms at home for 14 days with public health supervision, health officials said. They have been instructed to not go to school or work and to remain at home during the quarantine.
So far, four people have been tested for the coronavirus in Rhode Island. Only one laboratory in the Rhode Island, located at the state health department, is equipped to conduct the testing, state health officials said. Once the lab receives a sample it takes up to 48 hours to get the results.
State health officials are working with the hospital where the man who tested positive for COVID-19 is currently being treated to ensure all infection control protocols are being followed. State health officials did not release the name of the patient or the hospital.
The test results were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for final confirmation, Alexander-Scott said Sunday at a press conference.
“At this point time, the general level of risk for Rhode islanders is low. There is no need for panic, there is no need to be frightened,” Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said at the press conference
Massachusetts health officials announced Feb. 1 that a student at UMass Boston who had traveled to Wuhan City, China, had contracted the respiratory illness.
The first reported death in the U.S. from the novel coronavirus was confirmed Saturday in Seattle, prompting the governor of Washington to declare a state of emergency. The U.S. has about 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China. Worldwide, the number of people sickened by the virus hovered Friday around 83,000, and there were more than 2,800 deaths, most of them in China.
Most infections result in mild symptoms, including coughing and fever, though some can become more serious and lead to pneumonia. Older people, especially those with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung disease, are especially vulnerable. Health officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.
The number of coronavirus cases in the United States is considered small. But that number is expected to grow, and health agencies have been ramping up efforts to identify those who may be sick.
Outreach to those who have been in direct contact with the person in Rhode Island has begun. The agency said there are extensive efforts underway to ensure those people undergo a period of 14 days of self-monitoring for symptoms at home with public health supervision, also known as a quarantine.
The man in his 40s who was the first to be diagnosed had limited travel in Rhode Island since returning from Italy and had not gone to their place of work since returning. The person’s immediate family members have begun self-quarantining.
The CDC is managing the efforts to trace people on the man's return flight to the United States.
Saint Raphael Academy, which organized the trip to Europe, will be closed for the remainder of this week. Achievement First Academy will be closed for two days, pending the results of the staff member’s tests. The result is expected on Monday; the school is closing for an additional day for cleaning.