RIDOH: Everyone urged to take coronavirus preventative measures

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PROVIDENCE, R.I (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH) is strongly urging everyone in the state to take take several precautions to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

This comes after three people in the state have tested “presumptive positive” for the disease. A total of 42 other people have been tested for the disease, 30 came back negative and results of the other 12 are still pending. About 250 people have been asked to self quarantine because they have come in direct contact with someone with coronavirus.

“We know we will have community transmission of COVID-19 in Rhode Island at some point. It is critical that people stay home if they are sick or have been directed to stay home, and it is critical that we all do things like wash our hands regularly and avoid close personal contact, like handshakes, in public,” said DOH Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott.

“This is a situation that is evolving rapidly at the international and national levels. We have been preparing for weeks at the Rhode Island Department of Health, but we need the partnership of all Rhode Islanders to help keep our state healthy and safe.”

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The DOH asks if you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last two weeks to monitor yourself for symptoms of the disease. Symptoms include fever, cough, or shortness of breath. People who have traveled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, or Japan are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days in addition to monitoring themselves.

People are asked to make sure cold and flu medicines, as well as other medical supplies to treat fever and other symptoms, are available at home. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

In large groups, people are also asked to avoid handshakes and hugs, most importantly those gathering for worship and other groups activities.

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training has set up a COVID-19 assistance line, at 401-462-2020, to help to people regarding the coronavirus and employment issues.

The DOH says information gathered also shows that older people are twice as likely to experience the coronavirus illness. If you are over the age of 60, avoid close contact with people who are sick.

The DOH has spoken with representatives from nursing homes who also made several suggestions to help protect residents from the disease.

Employees are asked to screen everyone who comes to the facility for their recent travel history or if they have been exposed to the coronavirus in some way. People who have traveled overseas in the past 14 days are asked not to visit.

Residents are encouraged to only leave the building for doctor appointments. This will help prevent a person from getting sick, and bringing the illness back to the facility. If a special circumstance were to come up, and an exception needs to be made, families should work with nursing home administrators.

Anyone under 18 years old, and anyone who is not feeling well, is not allowed to visit.

Additional information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Anyone who has questions regarding the virus can call the R.I. Department of Health at (401) 222-8022 or visit the department’s website.

General messages for the public

  • Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.
  • If you were with someone who does not have symptoms, the risk of transmission is very low.
  • There are many respiratory illnesses circulating in Rhode Island, such as the flu and the common cold. Having respiratory symptoms does not mean that you have COVID-19.
  • People are at higher risk for COVID-19 if they have symptoms of the virus (cough, fever, shortness of breath) AND if they were a contact of a positive case of COVID-19 (or have traveled to country with community transmission, such as China, Italy, South Korea, Iran, and Japan).
  • Someone is considered a contact if they have had direct, face-to-face contact with a person with COVID-19.

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island

  • Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.
  • Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.
  • Stay home from work or school if you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.
  • Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

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