With 5 cases of coronavirus confirmed in the United States, WAAY 31 wanted to see how hospitals in Huntsville are equipped to handle a potential patient with the virus.
Doctors at Huntsville Hospital said while they have not seen patients with coronavirus symptoms, that does not mean they don't have a plan to follow if that changes.
"Coronavirus is a common virus actually," Dr. Ali Hassoun, an infectious disease specialist, said.
Hassoun is also the infection control director at Huntsville Hospital. Usually around this time of year, he and his team are fighting the spread of the flu, but this year they are on the lookout for coronavirus. He said the coronavirus isn't new, but has recently become very concerning.
"We need to be cautious because again more and more information is going to come out, what we'll hear about it and we're going to know more about hopefully within the next few weeks," Hassoun said.
Hassoun said the hospital is fully prepared and knows exactly what to do if a patient walks in with symptoms that resemble the coranivrus.
"The emergency room physicians whose usually the frontline in the management already aware about what to do if they have any suspicion, what's the main symptoms, who to call in Huntsville Hospital and how to contact the local state departments and the CDC," he said.
He said if a patient's symptoms raise a certain level of concern to the point they need to be tested for the virus. They have isolation rooms for the patient to stay in until testing is completed. That can take up to 72 hours.
"It's not like necessarily scary but it's definitely starting to move out towards us," Chip Hightower, who lives in Huntsville, told WAAY 31.
He said he's glad the hospitals are planning ahead, and that he's already taking extra precautions
"Definitely washing my hands more often stuff like that."
Doctors say that this virus is contagious and you can keep yourself safe by just washing your hands staying home if you're sick and not being in close contact with people who are sick.
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