Infectious disease specialist discusses coronavirus with ECU community

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) Dr. Paul Cook, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, answered questions and broke down what COVID-19 could mean.

Cook compared the current coronavirus (COVID-19) to other coronaviruses and influenza.

He also said even though people might have to prepare for a possible pandemic, they shouldn’t panic.

As of right now, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in North Carolina, but he does anticipate COVID-19 could change people’s daily routines at some point.

Cook said, at the moment, hospitals like Vidant Health cannot determine on-site if someone has COVID-19.

For now, health workers have to send samples away to a state lab for results.

He anticipates test kits will become available to hospitals and health departments.

Cook believes concern about the illness is warranted.

“I think what is very clear is that people are dying from this,” said Cook. “They’re dying in China. They’re dying in Iran. They’re dying in Italy. It’s only a matter of time before we see a lot more deaths in this country. I suspect this will be more in older people, or in people with chronic medical conditions, but I don’t think people are making too much of this at all.”

The best way to protect yourself is by frequently and thoroughly washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, eyes, and mouth, and staying home if you feel sick.

The talk is part of a series of pop-up lectures sponsored by ECU’s Phi Kappa Phi academic honors society, which works to promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others.

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