PORTLAND, Ore. — There are no cases of the novel coronavirus in Oregon as of Tuesday. However, the Portland Clinic said it is seeing an uptick in people coming in with symptoms concerned it is the coronavirus.
The clinic said it is especially hearing these concerns from people who have traveled recently, even if they did not travel to China.
So, let’s start with some of the basics. You may be surprised to hear that most people have been infected with the coronavirus at some point in their lives. It is the cause of some of the common colds. The type we are hearing about now is just a new strain.
“Many of the people who walk in have a particular kind of coronavirus, we test for three or four major kinds at the hospital,” explained Steven Seres, the medical director at Legacy Clinic Northeast. “The problem is this is a new one. A novel type and it seems to have a strength that is more than the average coronavirus that we've seen.”
We now know the coronavirus can spread from person to person, but it is not clear yet how easily it spreads.
“As far as coronavirus is concerned, and other viruses too, we're still learning about exactly how coronavirus is transmitted,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, health officer for Multnomah County. “We think it takes really close and prolonged contact based on past viruses that have been similar.”
The CDC agrees with the prolonged contact belief. What the CDC does not know yet, though, is if you can get if from touching something that has the virus on it.
“There is the possibility that you can pick it up from surfaces, which is why hand-washing and just being careful not to touch your face is part of the recommendation, and then always covering coughs and sneezes because it's those mucus particles that carry the virus and can transmit the germ,” Dr. Vines explained.
If you are worried about it, the CDC said the best thing to remember is to wash your hands.
You have also probably seen a lot of people in airports wearing face masks, but they are not currently recommended by the CDC as preventative measure for the coronavirus.
“They actually don't have a fine enough filtration material in them, so actually these viruses are so, so small, that they'll go right through a material like that. You need something called an N-95 or better to be used as a viral mask that would actually block this,” Seres said.
Bottom line though, health experts KGW spoke with said if you are not traveling to or from China, you are probably more likely to have a problem with your luggage than you are to get coronavirus.
Visit the CDC’s page about coronavirus to learn more.