UAB addresses coronavirus concerns during international public health emergency

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The World Health Organization declared the outbreak of coronavirus an “international public health emergency” Thursday afternoon.

Around the same time frame, the first case of human-to-human transfer of the virus in the United States was confirmed in Chicago.

Medical professionals at UAB held a discussion to address concerns around the virus in Birmingham.

The outbreak began in Wuhan, China. Now there are more than 8,000 cases worldwide and the death toll related to coronavirus continues to rise.

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo says all of the confirmed cases in the United States are directly linked to Wuhan.

“We are definitively not seeing any outbreaks in the United States. What we are seeing, is even with this case of human-to-human transmission, is localized infections that are directly related to China in importation, as in this case today transmission from someone who brought it from China.”

Dr. Rachael Lee says coronavirus symptoms are similar to that of the common cold and flu.

In Alabama, the doctor panel explained the flu is more of a concern, and right now they do not believe coronavirus in Wuhan poses a threat to the state.

A vaccine for coronavirus is also in the works. Dr. Marrazzo says she is on a team of doctors working together through Emory to develop a vaccine and testing could begin around April. She says it’s still unknown when the vaccine will be ready, but it will work similarly to the flu vaccine.

Research around the coronavirus is ongoing and evolving rapidly, and doctors are still working to learn more about the deadly cases of the virus.

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