Triangle doctors try to educate public about the coronavirus and stop spread of misinformation

Local News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As the coronavirus continues to dominate the news, doctors in the Triangle are trying to educate people to make sure they understand what exactly coronavirus is and to dispel some of the myths about the ailment.

Images of China constructing a vast new hospital to house coronavirus patients and reports of the growing death toll in China due to the prevalence of the virus have some people concerned that it’ll spread here.

But others say that’s just creating unnecessary panic.

“I think unreasonable fear is not going to help anything,” said Marla Rose of Cary.

Bhargav Guntuballi says, “It’s more the media hype that I’m feared about.”

And Cary resident Jane Ragan says, “Some of the news is a little frightening.”

At American Family Care in Cary, physicians’ assistant Orlinda Martinez says compared to the common cold or the flu, the virus should not be a great worry in this country.

“It’s not as prevalent and also the flu is a lot more deadly,’’ she said. “In America alone the flu can kill 35,000 people a year and right now that’s a lot more prevalent than the coronavirus.

This flu season alone, the CDC says more than 26 million people in this country have been sickened by the flu and up to 25,000 people in the U.S have died from it since October of 2019.

For some, the prospect of taking a trip outside the U.S. has them concerned about becoming infected by the coronavirus.

“I’m soon going to travel—so I’m a bit worried,’’ said Guntuballi.

Some folks say they’ll wear a mask before they go out in public thinking it’ll protect them from the virus, but medical professionals say, for the most part, they aren’t necessary.

“You have to wear it all the time and the reality is if people can wash their hands and don’t cough or sneeze on people, it decreases the likelihood of getting any type of virus, including coronavirus,” said Martinez.

With millions of people quarantined in China, medical professionals like those at the World Health Organization are still studying the virus itself to learn more about it.

But, those same professionals say we need to put illness caused by the coronavirus in perspective.

“What’s really challenging right now is that it’s flu season and the symptoms can be exactly the same as the flu,” said Doctor Brian Garibaldi, the director of the Biocontainment Unit Director at Johns Hopkins hospital.

As this country ramps up its airport checkpoints and other efforts aimed at keeping the virus contained, basic hygiene tactics like hand washing and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze will help reduce your risks significantly.

The U.S. government is making nearly 250 million dollars in emergency funds available to deal with the virus.

Some of those funds will be used to cover the costs of screening and monitoring returning U.S. citizens in the coming weeks.

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