As coronavirus cases grow, Mid-South doctors are preparing for public health threat

Local Health Alert

BARTLETT, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – In China, nearly 30 people have died from “The Coronavirus,” with close to 900 there that are currently fighting it.

As the first cases have started popping up in the United States, doctors here in Memphis are preparing for the worst. 

Dr. Dale Criner is an ER doctor at Saint Francis Hospital in Bartlett. He said, “Coronavirus is a family of viruses.”

It’s a family of viruses that can cause illnesses like the common cold, or even more deadly ones like “SARS,” or severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Dr. Criner said, “It starts in animals, and occasionally transmission occurs from the animal to the human.”

Now researchers are learning it can be spread from human to human. Symptoms include cough, runny nose, and a sore throat – and could potentially develop into pneumonia.

Dr. Criner said, “We do not know the full impact of this strain of Coronavirus at this time. As more patients test positive throughout the United States, we must remain alert to potential cases. Identification and appropriate isolation is extremely important. While many patients show mild symptoms, the fact fatalities continue to occur, speaks to the seriousness of the threat.”

In fact, the threat is so serious that the outbreak has caused international travel bans and quarantines.

He also said, “We need to make sure we are screening patients. If they have been out of the country recently, we have to think of the diseases they could be bringing back to the U.S.” 

Every day, cargo planes fly from China to the U.S., picking up the packages that arrive on your doorstep. He tells us those pilots are at risk. 

We reached out to FedEx to find out how the shipping giant is preventing the spread. In a statement FedEx said: 

“The safety and well-being of our team members is our top priority, and we are closely monitoring guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization. FedEx is supplying surgical masks and alcohol wipes to team members and vendors, supplying hand sanitizer, and disinfecting facilities in areas where outbreaks have occurred. We are also encouraging our team members to take any signs of illness seriously and seek medical attention as needed.” 

Dr. Criner says the virus is passed in “respiratory droplet fashion.” This means it’s passed when you come in contact with a coughing or sneezing person.

He said, “Simply receiving a package, getting that in your house, is not going to give you Coronavirus.”

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