Could the coronavirus ever make it to Northeast Ohio? ‘Never say never.’

University Hospitals expert advises risk is currently low to very low locally.

What Northeast Ohio should know about the coronavirus outbreak in China

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -The medical world continues to focus its eyes on China and the response to the coronavirus outbreak in the city of Wuhan.

As of Monday, its reported that 81 people have died in China while the number of suspected cases has risen to over 2,700 in the city of 11 million.

In the U.S. five people tested positive for the virus, all of which had recently traveled out of China.

“Public health professionals in Northeast Ohio are watching the situation closely and concerns exist of potential cases manifesting here, so screening and testing has been instituted at many healthcare institutions, including University Hospitals of Cleveland (UH),” said Dr. Elie Anthony Saade, Medical Director for Infection Control at UH. “The risk in the United States in general, and in Northeast Ohio in particular, is considered very low or low at this time.”

There are several types of cornoavirus.

The illness currently attacking China has upper respiratory symptoms similar to pneumonia or the flu.

Considering Northeast Ohio is in the middle of peak flu season, Saade warns against panic just because someone you encounter might be sick.

“The main clue is return within the last 2 weeks from the Wuhan, Hubei area in China. Otherwise, there is no telltale sign to distinguish most patients with the coronavirus from those with the Influenza,” Saade said.

Although five states have already had cases appear, Saade said chances are low for Ohio but he advised, “never say never.”

“Transmission from person-to-person outside of the Wuhan, Hubei area has not been demonstrated yet, also it may certainly happen,” Saade said. “Travel out of Wuhan, Hubei is now suspended and when it resumes, the plan is to funnel travelers to a handful of US airports. No Ohio, or neighboring state, airport has been assigned for this process. However, hospitals throughout the area are well equipped to contain the virus and prevent spread should that happen.”

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