UGA Experts Discuss Coronavirus

Feb 5, 2020

Health authorities are developing strategies to work to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Tactics include limiting travel, isolating sick people and keeping travelers returning from the affected region under quarantine.

Curt Harris is a professor at UGA’s Institute for Disaster Management. He says they are training clinicians and first responders on how to protect themselves. But he says back to the basics for everyone else when it comes to keeping safe.

A medical worker in a hazardous materials suit uses a body thermal scanner to check temperature of Chinese passenger who just arrived from Beijing at the Yaroslavsky railway station in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020.
Credit AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin

“So it’s simple things like making sure you’re washing your hands with warm soapy water and doing those things for about 20 seconds because a lot of time when we do our hand washing it not necessarily long enough, so doing that for about 20 seconds,” according to Harris. “It’s also good public health practices, like sneezing into your elbow, trying to avoid contact with your hands into your eyes, into your nasal cavities, into your mouth. All of those things help to spread disease.”

Dr. Jose Cordero is the Patel Distinguished professor in UGA’s College of Public Health.

He says so far, the new coronavirus is posing much less of a threat to Americans than the flu.

“We’re currently under the seasonal influenza virus that actually has caused over 82-hundred deaths in the U.S,” Cordero said. “You have a much, much higher risk of having influenza, having complications from influenza than you currently have from the coronavirus.”

Cordero also says using masks is good for people who are already sick, to avoid spreading their illnesses and for those whose immune systems are comprised. But for most healthy people, the masks don’t do much good.

On Monday, the University System of Georgia barred travel to China.