Virginia health officials say respiratory precautions for the flu and coronavirus are virtually the same

Coronavirus

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — As concerns grow over a potential coronavirus pandemic, state and local health officials are preparing for if it spreads in the commonwealth.

Eight people have been tested in the state thus far with six tests coming back negative and two results pending.

Chesapeake Health Director Nancy Welch wants residents to keep that in perspective.

“I’m not discounting the concern with coronavirus, but I don’t want that concern to blind us to where we currently are and what the current risk is more people are dying from flu,” Welch said.

In Virginia alone, 800 have died from flu, and up to 16 times more people have died from flu in the U.S. since October than have died worldwide from coronavirus, Welch said.

“The good news is that the respiratory precautions for both flu and coronavirus are the same,” she added.

Wash your hands. It’s almost too simple to believe, but good hand hygiene along with covering your coughs with your arm are the best defenses.

That, and staying informed.

“There’s a lot between the schools, the hospitals, the providers. There’s a lot of communication going on because it’s new to everybody and there’s a lot of information,” Chesapeake Health Department Epidemiologist, Lisa Engle told WAVY.com.

Local health departments are getting updates on an hourly basis and preparing for the “what ifs.”

“Normally we don’t like to close schools for outbreaks because we can keep the (people who are) well in school and the sick out,” Engle said.

“We have to ask, are we going to apply that same thinking to one but not the other, I don’t know,” Welch added.

It’s all a bit up in the air, as they learn more everyday.

“These germs are pretty smart. They’ve all gone to graduate school. These germs fool us. It takes us a while to gather all the information.” Welch said.

In the meantime, travel restrictions and quarantines are what the CDC advises to keep coronavirus contained as long as possible.


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