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Doctor suggests worrying about the common flu, not coronavirus

No cases of the virus have yet been positively identified
Posted at 5:13 PM, Jan 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 17:25:04-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — According to the chief medical officer at West Michigan-based Priority Health, the public should be more concerned about the common flu than the current strain of coronavirus.

The strain out of China making the rounds is actually a new type of coronavirus. According to Dr. James Forshee of Priority Health, "coronaviruses are a family of viruses, actually seven specific viruses. Most of the time what they do is cause the common cold."

This current strain is referred to as the 2019 novel coronavirus. Forshee says it does seem to be more aggressive than strains they have seen in the past.

There have been over 200 deaths so far in China related to the virus, with roughly another 9,700 people infected. Thankfully there hasn't been much of a massive outbreak stateside. The Centers for Disease Control has only confirmed six cases in the United States so far.

"To put that in perspective, our flu season here in America last year we had 4.2 million people infected. About 650,000 ended up in the hospital and we had about 61,000 deaths from the common flu," Forshee told FOX 17 Friday.

There is no vaccine available for this strain of the virus.

Forshee says the methods we all usually use to protect ourselves against the common flu and cold will work to fight coronavirus infection.

He suggests, "Constantly washing our hands either with soap and water for 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer that has abs 60 percent alcohol base in them ... when we cough or sneeze make sure we cover our mouths, if we use a tissue throw it away, wash our hands again. Those are all really important things whenever we can try and avoid being around people who are sick."

You can find up-to-date information about the current virus at the CDC's website.