PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed an American man contracted a type of coronavirus first discovered last month in the city of Wuhan, China, that has infected more than 400 people and reportedly left as many as 17 dead.
But the CDC believes the risk level is low for other people in the United States to contract it, even though there’s at least one report of human-to-human transmission of the respiratory illness.
The Rhode Island Department of Health’s Joseph Wendelken said Wednesday that they’re following guidance from and staying in communication with the CDC: situational updates, what symptoms have been seen, and testing and reporting protocols.
“It’s an evolving situation and the CDC is continuing to learn more and more, and they’re passing that information onto states,” he said. “We’ve been working to communicate that information to Rhode Island healthcare providers.”
It’s not clear just how the virus is being passed from person to person, according to the latest intel from the CDC.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can often cause pneumonia-like symptoms. The associated illness can be as minor as a cold, or as serious as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization.
The virus is being referred to by various names including “novel coronavirus 2019,” or nCoV-2019.
In Wuhan, an outbreak of pneumonia has been ongoing since December. A man who returned to Washington state from visiting Wuhan was the first U.S. case.
Older adults and people with weakened immune systems or underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for the virus.
Five major airports across the United States believed likely to have connections reaching Wuhan now have health screening installed at ports of entry. T.F. Green Airport in Warwick and Logan Airport in Boston aren’t among them.
Anyone with questions about the virus can ask their healthcare provider or contact the R.I. Department of Health at (401) 222-5960 or their website at health.ri.gov.