Brown University’s Dr. Chan Warns of Depleting Masks Needed for Coronavirus

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

 

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L-R Dr. Chan and GoLocal News Editor Nagle

Dr. Phil Chan, who is a Professor of Medicine at Brown University in Providence and works with the Rhode Island Department of Health, warns that individuals who do not have the coronavirus should not purchase face masks. Chan said they are in low supply and need to be available to health care workers. 

Rhode Island currently has two presumed positive cases of coronavirus; three schools were closed on Tuesday.

“We are running low on supplies for sure,” said Chan on GoLocal LIVE. “It is recommended, certainly the standard practice when someone is sick, who presents to a healthcare setting, is to put a face mask on them. It’s also standard for COVID-19 that the healthcare provider should wear what is knowns as a N95 mask. And that’s a little bit more of an enhanced face mask that filters out about 95% of particles. For healthcare professionals who don’t have that, they shouldn’t be evaluating people with suspected COVID-19.”

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Chan said that the state has been planning for the emergence of the new coronavirus, COVID-19 — and explained how, despite comparisons to the flu, it differs. 

“The problem with this current virus known as COVID-19 is that it has a preference for lung receptors — so what happens is that causes pneumonia. It’s a virus so the typical antibiotics that we have don’t work against COVID-19,” said Chan. 

Preparing — and Reacting

“Unfortunately, we did think that it was going to come here at some point, especially now that it’s begun spreading through Europe,” said Chan, of the first “presumed-positive” case made public by the Department of Health on Sunday.

“What we do know is the typical point from when someone’s infected to when they have symptoms is about 4 to seven days with an average of five days,” said Chan. “So what we’ve been doing for people who have returned, who are higher risk, is to have them quarantine themselves and self-monitor for 14 days and that’s the upper-level people would develop symptoms within.”

“If you’re sick with flu-like symptoms and you need to go to the hospital, please do so, but please also call the emergency room ahead do they can take the necessary steps,” said Chan, who reiterated the advice for people to wash their hands often, sneeze into their sleeves — and if someone is older or has pre-existing conditions, avoiding large public gatherings. 

Dr. Phil Chan, who is a Professor of Medicine at Brown University in Providence and works with the Rhode Island Department of Health, warns that individuals who do not have the coronavirus should not purchase face masks. Chan said they are in low supply and need to be available to health care workers. 

 
 

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