Coronavirus concerns could be overwhelming emergency rooms across DC region

Coronavirus concerns could be overwhelming emergency rooms across our area, even though you’re unlikely to catch the coronavirus if you haven’t traveled abroad or been exposed.

FOX 5’s Tisha Lewis spoke with an infectious diseases physician at INOVA Fairfax Hospital, and ultimately, some concerns about coronavirus are legitimate, many are not.

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Dr. David Wheeler says the Washington, D.C. area doesn’t have any coronavirus that has been recognized yet.

Last checked, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are 13 cases of coronavirus in the United States — none of them near the mid-Atlantic.

The 13th case is reportedly from someone who was evacuated from China.

“Hypochondria is universal,” said Falls Church resident John Judy. “I suppose if you have the symptoms and you’ve been anywhere near an outbreak you would be right to be concerned but otherwise I think, see your doctor."

“The coronavirus in terms of fatalities has gone beyond things like the other ones that we’ve had so it’s alarming,” said Oxon Hill resident Vostina DiNovo.

A woman purchases surgical masks at a store in a shopping mall on January 29, 2020 in Hong Kong, China, in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV throughout the country. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images) (Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Even so, coronavirus concerns are reportedly prompting people to flood emergency rooms across the area — people who ultimately do not have the coronavirus.

What is happening is more people are reportedly contracting the flu due to the influx of people coming to the emergency room concerned about having the coronavirus, which is unlikely, unless you’ve traveled abroad.

“We want to protect everybody else in the emergency room clinic from somebody with a respiratory illness. In this area right now that’s going to be flu,” said Dr. David Wheeler.

Wheeler goes on to say people may come to the emergency department thinking they have coronavirus, but actually have another respiratory virus, such as the flu.  
He emphasized that unless someone is very ill and needs hospital-based care, it is best to not expose themselves or others to respiratory viruses and calling their primary care doctor may be the best first step. 

This same hysteria took place during the SARS outbreak and now NOVEL 2019 also known as Coronavirus.