Local doctor talks prevention of coronavirus

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — The flu and coronavirus can have symptoms similar in presentation, like coughing, fever and runny nose.

A sign hangs on the door of Harrisonburg Family Practice warning patients that if they believe they may have the coronavirus or have recently traveled, they should go to the Emergency Department.

Dr. Gregory Jesteadt says the viruses can also be prevented similarly by keeping hands and surfaces clean, staying away from people who have the virus, and keeping germs to yourself.

He said containment of the virus is key.

"All the mechanisms are in place with all the public awareness stuff to keep this contained," Jesteadt said. "If there is a point down the road where it isn't contained, that's when we've got a really serious problem."

Jesteadt said family doctors won't be able to screen for the coronavirus, so people who think they may have contracted it should head to an emergency room.

"Somebody who has just returned from a place in the world where it is currently endemic, you should get tested at an ER," Jesteadt said. "Don't go to your primary care physician's office, go right to the emergency room and let them know why you're there immediately."

Jesteadt said with these symptoms, someone is more likely to have the flu in the United States than coronavirus at this time, but it is all about exposure. He said if you've been around someone who you know was traveling to affected countries, like China, Italy, Iran, or South Korea, get yourself checked.

"What all the hubbub is about is to keep this contained because this is a very serious virus that can, if left unchecked, kill millions of people rather rapidly," Jesteadt said.

He added that his patients have asked about coronavirus immunizations, as well as coronavirus treatments. He said neither exists yet.

"It's really not here in the United States in large numbers yet, and let's keep it that way."