PROVIDENCE, RI — Rhode Island state health officials announced on Sunday that two residents who arrived home from a school trip to Italy last month tested positive for the novel coronavirus, while a third is currently undergoing tests.
The Rhode Island Department of Health confirmed that an unidentified man in his 40s and a teenage girl tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling to Italy in mid-February, while a third potential case in her 30s is currently undergoing presumptive tests. All three are presumed to be staff and students at Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, which organized the 38 person trip prior to reports of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy last week which has resulted in 34 deaths to date.
"All three people went on the same trip to Italy," said Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott of the RIDOH. "This is precisely why we are being so aggressive in identifying contacts, ensuring monitoring, and testing people who are symptomatic."
All 38 the people who attended the trip will be self-monitoring for symptoms at home for 14 days with public health supervision and have been instructed to not go to school or work. Saint Raphael Academy has indicated that the school is currently closed until March 6th.
"The Rhode Island Department of Health has been preparing for weeks to ensure that we have a structure in place to, to the best of our ability, limit or prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Rhode Island. We fully anticipated having the first case of COVID-19," said Alexander-Scott. "We are not seeing widespread community transmission in Rhode Island, and the general level of risk for Rhode Islanders is still low. However, everyone in Rhode Island has a role to play in helping us prevent the spread of viruses, just like the flu. It is very important that people wash their hands regularly, cover their coughs and sneezes, and stay home if they are sick."
The CDC has indicated that there are currently 43 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., including one reported last month in Massachusetts. So far, two deaths have been linked to the novel coronavirus, both of which were reported in the state of Washington.
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