NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Misinformation has been detrimental in the fight against the spread of coronavirus, medical professionals said at a panel Wednesday night.
For an hour and a half, several hundred people received a crash course on the virus, formally known as COVID-19, at an Eastern Virginia Medical Schools panel titled: “Coronavirus: Don’t Let Misconceptions Eclipse the Truth.”
“A lot of misinformation going around on social media. It’s really sad actually,” said Dr. Edward Oldfield, Professor of Internal Medicine at EVMS and an infectious disease specialist.
He made the remark after responding to an online question from a person who heard that different “races” were more susceptible to contracting the virus.
“There’s nobody that has immunity to this, and so it could rage through the entire population,” Oldfield said. “Its all about recognition and source control.”
Currently, there is no vaccination for the virus, which has similar symptoms to what must of us would consider the flu.
As of Wednesday night, 11 people in the United States had died of the virus. Most of those who died were residents of Life Care Center, a nursing home in Kirkland, a suburb east of Seattle.
However, out of the nearly 100,000 cases confirmed, more than 50 percent of people have recovered.
“This is not a death sentence,” said Dr. Brian Martin, with EVMS Public Health.
However, unlike concerns over the spread of swine flu (H1N1) and Ebola in recent years, coronavirus spreads differently.
“When you have the ability for the virus to jump from person to person in the community, that becomes much less able to be contained,” Martin said.
Across the country, there have been movements to cancel large festivals in the wake of the virus spread.
One person who attended the EVMS panel was specifically concerned about the 2020 Something in the Water festival planned for Virginia Beach.
Both James Redick, Norfolk’s director of emergency preparedness and response, and Dr. Demetria Lindsay, district director for the Norfolk and Virginia Beach health departments, said there are ongoing conversations about how to handle big events.
“We’re not at that point yet of making a decision about whether or not [Something in the Water] event or others would be canceled,” Lindsay said.
On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus a global public health emergency. Click here for some coronavirus myth-busters from the WHO.
The first reported infected individuals showed symptoms as early as Dec. 8. Those infections were discovered to be among stallholders from the Wuhan South China Seafood Market, according to Johns Hopkins University.