Local physician weighs in on coronavirus


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An infectious diseases physician at Spectrum Health wants people to maintain perspective as the coronavirus is declared a public health emergency.

Thursday afternoon, the World Health Organization (WHO) held a press conference to announce the deadly virus in China that’s spreading across the globe is “deeply concerning.”

“I think they’re trying to be really cautious until we have all the information, until we know how deadly it is, how contagious it is,” Dr. Christina Fahlsing told News 8 Thursday. “They want to make sure it doesn’t get too out of control before we have all the information and I think it’s a really good preventative measure, but I think that a big part of that announcement is tied to tying down funding and resources to the WHO, who spearheads the global infection control effort.”

Fahlsing said the declaration is no cause for panic.

“The flu is more real at this point to the average American than the coronavirus and if you’re taking steps to prevent coronavirus, it’s going to prevent you from flu and RSV and some of these other viruses that are circulating in high numbers right now.” she explained.

Spectrum recently posted information for people who are worried about the outbreak.  Prevention is the same as other viruses.

“A big one is don’t touch your face,” Fahlsing said. “People rub their eyes, rub their nose, things like that. If you have a virus on your hands you picked up somewhere in the environment and you wipe your nose, that’s how you catch it, so don’t touch your face.”

As of Thursday night, the death toll related to the coronavirus in China is 213. Flu-related deaths reported so far this season, according to the latest U.S. numbers from the CDC, is 8,200.

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