Health experts preparing for possible coronavirus outbreak

Updated: Feb. 27, 2020 at 11:11 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - There is no sign of the coronavirus in Mississippi but health officials aren’t taking any chances. Thursday, a team of health experts with the University of Mississippi Medical Center held a press briefing to discuss the dangers of the virus.

The recent outbreak of the coronavirus across the globe is leaving Americans on the edge of their seat.

First detected in China, the CDC says it’s only a matter of time before we see the virus spread across the United States. That’s why UMMC is creating a plan of action for fighting the infection.

“Some of the actions we are taking right now is enhanced monitoring of cases.” said Dr. Paul Byers, State Epidemiologist, Mississippi State Department of Health.

It all starts with monitoring travelers closely. If patients show symptoms like fever, cough, and shortness of breath;

“We ask them have you traveled outside of the U.S. in the last thirty days? Have you had contact with anyone who has traveled? If they answer that in a positive, we then look at signs and symptoms to see if they fit the criteria for this illness. If so they automatically get a screen prompting them to move the patient to an isolation room after applying a mask,” said Dr. Jason Parham, director of the Department of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases.

Speaking of traveling, doctors say do so at your own risk.

“There will be some concerns from a traveler saying they were around someone who possibly had the coronavirus.” said Dr. Bhagyashri Navalkele, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at UMMC.

“Be aware of the symptoms and the risk. We are working closely with CDC to identify those who have visited China and make direct contact with them.”

The State Department of Health is working with every hospital in the state… keeping an eye out for any signs of the virus.

At the end of the day… doctors say good hygiene is your best defense.

“Even if you are not sick.. wash your hands! Avoid rubbing your eyes and nose and mouth… that is how things are transmitted.”

And even though doctors are concerned over the deadly coronavirus… The flu is still at the top of the list.

“It leads to hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations. It leads to 35 to 45,000 deaths in the U.S. alone.”

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