Greta Thunberg Says It’s ‘Extremely Likely’ That She Had Coronavirus

Climate|Greta Thunberg Says It’s ‘Extremely Likely’ That She Had Coronavirus
Greta Thunberg Says It’s ‘Extremely Likely’ That She Had Coronavirus
Greta Thunberg at a meeting of the European Council in Brussels on March 5.Credit...Virginia Mayo/Associated Press
Greta Thunberg Says It’s ‘Extremely Likely’ That She Had Coronavirus

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Ms. Sengupta has covered the youth climate movement for more than a year and has interviewed Ms. Thunberg in Sweden, Britain and Switzerland.

Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish climate activist, announced on Tuesday that she and her father, Svante, had symptoms of Covid-19 and that while hers were mild, it was “extremely likely” that she had contracted the virus. She used the announcement to urge young people to stay at home, even if they don’t feel sick, to protect those who are more vulnerable.

“Many (especially young people) might not notice any symptoms at all, or very mild symptoms,” she said on Instagram, where she has 10 million followers. “Then they don’t know they have the virus and can pass it on to people in risk groups.”

“We who don’t belong to a risk group have an enormous responsibility, our actions can be the difference between life and death for many others,” she said.

Ms. Thunberg spoke to European Union lawmakers at a meeting in Brussels in early March. In an effort to protect her mother and her sister at home in Stockholm, Ms. Thunberg said she and her father, who accompanies her on her travels, had isolated themselves in a separate apartment.

She said she had felt “tired, had shivers, a sore throat and coughed.” Her father, she said, felt far worse and had a fever. Sweden offers Covid-19 tests only to those who need urgent medical care, she wrote, which meant that she was not tested.

Ms. Thunberg’s solo climate strikes helped fuel a global youth movement pressing world leaders to take action to slow down catastrophic climate change. For the last several weeks, the virus has compelled climate activists to take their protests off the streets and onto the internet.

“In a crisis we change our behavior and adapt to the new circumstances for the greater good of society,” she said on Twitter in mid-March, urging climate protesters to post pictures of themselves online. She posted a picture of herself, with her two dogs, and her famous homemade sign that read, in Swedish, “School Strike for the Climate.”

On Tuesday, in her Instagram post, she urged young people to “follow the advice from experts and your local authorities and #StayAtHome to slow the spread of the virus.”

  • Updated March 24, 2020

    • How does coronavirus spread?

      It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.

    • Is there a vaccine yet?

      No. The first testing in humans of an experimental vaccine began in mid-March. Such rapid development of a potential vaccine is unprecedented, but even if it is proved safe and effective, it probably will not be available for 12 to18 months.

    • What makes this outbreak so different?

      Unlike the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions — not just those with respiratory diseases — particularly hard.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • How do I get tested?

      If you’re sick and you think you’ve been exposed to the new coronavirus, the C.D.C. recommends that you call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there’s a chance — because of a lack of testing kits or because you’re asymptomatic, for instance — you won’t be able to get tested.

    • What if somebody in my family gets sick?

      If the family member doesn’t need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible, according to guidelines issued by the C.D.C. If there’s space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      No. Unless you’re already infected, or caring for someone who is, a face mask is not recommended. And stockpiling them will make it harder for nurses and other workers to access the resources they need to help on the front lines.

    • Should I stock up on groceries?

      Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves, the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

    • Can I go to the park?

      Yes, but make sure you keep six feet of distance between you and people who don’t live in your home. Even if you just hang out in a park, rather than go for a jog or a walk, getting some fresh air, and hopefully sunshine, is a good idea.

    • Should I pull my money from the markets?

      That’s not a good idea. Even if you’re retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year’s worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.

    • What should I do with my 401(k)?

      Watching your balance go up and down can be scary. You may be wondering if you should decrease your contributions — don’t! If your employer matches any part of your contributions, make sure you’re at least saving as much as you can to get that “free money.”


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