Coronavirus: Separating fact from fiction


(WAVY) — There are a lot of rumors and misinformation out there concerning coronavirus.

10 On Your Side is working to separate fact from fiction so you can make informed decisions to protect yourself and your family.

We turned to Dr. Edward Oldfield, an infectious diseases expert with Eastern Virginia Medical School, who’s been practicing more than 40 years. We asked him some of the questions you want answered.

So, first, is it safe to receive packages from China or other countries experiencing an outbreak?

“If there was contamination, it doesn’t survive very long on the package and so I would say its 100-percent safe,” Oldfield said.

Will a surgical mask provide protection?

“So yes, masks work, but in a healthcare setting with limited exposure. But, if you’re talking about going around all day with a mask on and you’re sweating in it you’re adjusting it, you’re touching your face, it actually may be worse than not wearing a mask,” he said.

Do antibacterials kill the coronavirus?

The doctor said yes, but a recent run on these products is concerning to him. You don’t need to hoard it or pay inflated costs when there is anther way to kill it: soap and water for 20 seconds.

Is it safe to fly?

“So I think it would be fairly wise if I was going to fly to take a Clorox wipe and then wipe down that table top and maybe the arms of your chair,” Oldfield said. He added people should not fear recycled air inside planes. He explained that an airplane cabin actually has more air exchanges per hour then a respiratory isolation room in a hospital, and since it goes through a 99.95 percent HEPA filter each cycle, almost everything is filtered out.

“Airplanes, other than the fact that you’ve got a lot of people on the airplane, its fairly safe,” he said.

Is there a vaccine for the coronavirus?

Scientists are working on a vaccine. Oldfield expects one will be available at some point, but he believes that is at least a year down the road.

While COVID-19 appears to be spread the same way as the flu, the current flu and pneumonia vaccines will not protect from coronavirus.

Oldfield insists people with symptoms should stay home.

Should everyone with symptoms be tested?

Short answer: No.

“The kits are limited… For the state of Virginia, there are only two kits for the whole state with only 50 tests each… Tests need to be saved for those who’ve been exposed,” he said.

So, is the coronavirus threat being blown out of proportion?

“How bad it will be we don’t know… (but) you have to be prepared. It would be absurd to think that this is not something you’re going to be prepared for,” he said.

Right now, he said it appears to be more deadly than H1N1 pandemic flu of 2009 and the seasonal flu.

You can check out the coronavirus tracking map here.

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