Breaking down myths surrounding the Coronavirus

Published: Feb. 12, 2020 at 10:22 PM CST
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Earlier this year, the World Health Organization declared the Novel Coronavirus a global health emergency.

Tuesday an official name was announced for the disease, COVID-19.

But for people in western Wisconsin, health officials say there isn't much reason to worry right now.

As of Wednesday there are more than 45,000 reported cases of Coronavirus around the world and more than 1,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

There's a lot of different beliefs about what exactly the Novel Coronavirus is.

"At this point all I know, and at least what I think it is, is just kind of an on steroids version of the flu," said Ben of Eau Claire.

"I know it started spreading in China and it's kind of like the flu. I've heard different things, some people say yeah it's not that dangerous and others say you die quickly," added Thomas from Eau Claire.

Even though it's only recently been in the news, Dr. Joseph Williams at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire says Coronavirus is not new.

"It's actually a common virus that causes respiratory colds. Mainly runny nose, congestion, cough. But the one we're hearing about in the news right now is a novel, which just basically means it's a new one that causes more of a severe respiratory syndrome," explained Williams.

Last week, the first case of Coronavirus in Wisconsin was confirmed.

But that patient recently traveled to China, and was in contact with people who were already sick.

While some people might be fearful of traveling anywhere right now, Steve Youngblood at Holiday Vacations says that shouldn't be the case.

"The CDC says don't travel to China, but the CDC also says travel. It's not scary to travel right now," said Youngblood.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are only 14 confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus in the U.S., with 66 more under investigation.

The CDC also estimates there are at least 22 million cases of the flu, and around 12,000 deaths from influenza this flu season.

"For the most part they actually have the same morbidity-mortality, meaning you're likely to get the same complications from influenza and Coronavirus. It's just Coronavirus might spread a little easier," said Williams.

Williams says people in the Chippewa Valley shouldn't lose sleep over the Coronavirus.

"We're kind of at a nice area in Wisconsin that the answer is no right now. The truth is in the future that certainly can change, but right now the biggest threat for us is still influenza virus," he said.

At Sacred Heart, they say the only difference is they ask if people have traveled specifically to China recently, the source of the outbreak.

The CDC recommends getting a flu shot if you have not already, and just taking everyday precautions such as washing your hands.

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