COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA/WBTW) – A warning from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control: They’re saying the coronavirus has the potential to become a public health threat. But, there’s another virus that they say they’re also concerned about.
“In today’s connected world, an outbreak anywhere is a potential risk everywhere,” said South Carolina State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell.
Alarming words coming from the South Carolina State House. State health officials explaining a new threat that spans the globe.
“I see on the news there is sporadic cases in the U.S. but it seems very limited,” said Greg Tompkins.
But some travelers like Greg Tompkins, aren’t too worried. He is in the sky a lot for work and while the coronavirus isn’t on his mind while sitting on a plane, another one is.
“I’m thinking more probably about the regular flu and the people coughing coming down the aisles,” Tompkins told 7 News.
Some doctors told us he’s not far from wrong. In fact, the state’s epidemiologist told News13’s sister station WSPA 7 News the flu this time of year, is also a big threat. But the symptoms for both of them can be hard to differentiate.
7 News: “Is there a way you can tell the difference?”
“Yes, if you have had recent travel to China, we will investigate if you have coronavirus,” said Dr. Lachin Hatemi with Veritas Health Group.
Columbia Doctor, Lachin Hatemi told us he has seen a handful of patients coming in, worried they have the coronavirus.
“It’s also the peak season for the flu so there is a lot confusion,” Hatemi said.
The state health department said they are working with the CDC to take preventative measures like adding screening at large airports. The closest one to here is the Atlanta airport.
They also told us the people who are most at risk are the ones who are taking care of the people that have already been infected.
So far, there have been five confirmed cases of this new coronavirus in the U.S. None of which are in the southeastern part of the country.
Health experts told us all the people infected, were previously in the impacted area in China.