Preparations for the Coronavirus are underway in Monroe County.
The new virus has spread to the United States with six confirmed cases but so far none have been anywhere close to our area.
Lehigh Valley Hospital- Pocono and East Stroudsburg University are working together in taking precautions.
You've probably had the most common version of the Coronavirus in your lifetime which is basically a cold. The name comes from the virus looking like a crown under a microscope. But this new version coming from China that started in 2019 is more serious. Out of the seven thousand confirmed cases there, 170 people have died so far.
LVH-Pocono Infectious Diseases Program Director Susheer Gandotra, M.D. says, "It is a rapidly evolving situation so things are changing every week."
The new infection called the Novel Coronavirus now has confirmed cases in 18 countries including the United States. The virus is spread person to person like the common cold and symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath and fever.
Gandotra says, "It can infect the respiratory system, go into lower respiratory track and cause symptoms like flu, pneumonia and in severe cases can cause death."
Doctors don’t know much else about it yet including how it started.
Gandotra says, "It probably came from animals to humans as there was the seafood market in the Wuhan area, which is thought to be the origin where the first case started."
That’s why the Infectious Diseases Program Director tells us Lehigh Valley Hospital- Pocono is taking a proactive approach.
Gandotra says, "To protect our patients and our staff against Novel Coronavirus, we have signage posted in the emergency room, outpatient practices and we have been in talks and discussion with the health care staff to educate them about evolving situation."
East Stroudsburg University is also monitoring the situation by having its health center located at the hospital.
ESU Health/Wellness Director Dr. Amy Freeman, " In the event that there was an outbreak, we would work very closely with their infection control team and the Department of Health and then we would be able to follow their recommendations."
Right now people are only at risk of getting Novel Coronavirus if they visited China or have been exposed to someone with the virus within the past 14 days. That’s why local officials are more worried about the flu.
Freeman says, "Wash your hands, hydrate. Stay home from school, work, activities and continue those items that you would normally do to prevent the flu."
We’re told every year the Influenza Virus kills about 30 thousand people in our country and so far the Novel Coronavirus has killed 170 people in China. You can still get the flu vaccine to protect yourself.