Coronavirus 'hysteria' unwarranted, focus on flu, infection control expert says

In the midst of the furor and panic over the global outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus, the head of Roanoke, Va.-based Carilion Clinic's infection prevention efforts is reminding the American public about the danger that the flu poses, according to The Roanoke Times.

Anthony W. Baffoe-Bonnie, MD, medical director of infection prevention and control, said that U.S. residents should be more concerned about getting the flu than coronavirus. As of Jan. 28, there have been 4,609 confirmed cases and 106 deaths linked to the virus that started in Wuhan, China, compared to 15 million illnesses, 140,000 hospitalizations and 8,200 deaths related to the flu this season.

"There have been 2,000-plus cases of influenza in this area alone," Dr. Baffoe-Bonnie told the Times. "And there have been about 2,000 cases of coronavirus worldwide. So play the odds. If you are likely going to catch something, it's the flu."

While it is important to be aware of the spread of the coronavirus and of public health regulations intended to stem the outbreak, Dr. Baffoe-Bonnie said, "I don't see any need for hysteria."

There are no confirmed case of coronavirus in Virginia, but three people have been tested for it in the commonwealth. Two tests have come back negative, and results of the third test are expected this week.

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