Doctor: Louisiana residents should worry about the flu, not coronavirus

Published: Feb. 5, 2020 at 11:39 AM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - As of Feb. 4, more than 20 countries are reporting cases of the new deadly strain of coronavirus and more than 400 people are dead.

The headlines sound pretty bad, but do you really need to worry here in Louisiana? No one has even been tested for it in Baton Rouge.

“The risk to the general population in the US is low,” said Dr. Catherine O’Neal, associate chief medical officer at Our Lady of the Lake. “The CDC has said this multiple times. The risk to people who have become exposed to someone who has recently traveled to China or an actual case is higher, but the average American citizen right now has a very low risk of getting the coronavirus.”

As of right now, there have not been any reported cases of the coronavirus in Louisiana and no one has even been tested for it in Baton Rouge.

Dr. O’Neal says the risk is so low, we really shouldn’t even be worried, rather people should be focused on another far more deadly virus.

“I think on average people should have a low level of worry about coronavirus in the United States. They should be very worried about influenza right now because we’re at the height of flu season, we’re seeing a lot of flu cases locally and coronavirus should be a thought when you read the news but not a worry,” Dr. O’Neal said.

Thousands have already died from the flu this season, according to the CDC.

"People in the Baton Rouge area should be getting their vaccination today if they haven’t already,” Dr. O’Neal said. “They should be protecting themselves from people that don’t have the flu. They should be washing their hands, covering their cough, and focusing on not getting the flu.”

Some tips if you are worried about catching the flu:

  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Stay away from anyone who is sick

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