ROCK HILL, S.C. — China's government has put restrictions on travel in Wuhan, China -- the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. The death toll has gone up from 9 to 17, and health officials announced Wednesday more than 500 people are infected.
So far one person in the United States has the disease, a man in Washington state who traveled to Wuhan, China. Health officials are keeping a close eye on it, bracing for the possibility of more cases in the United States.
"We should always be concerned, especially when we're dealing with novel viruses, a brand new virus no human being has had experience with,” said Dr. Arash Poursina, an infectious disease specialist in Rock Hill.
Coronavirus can be passed from person to person and symptoms are like common illnesses, making it a challenge for doctors to diagnose.
“There are lots of other viruses that can cause upper respiratory tract infection," Dr. Poursina said. "All of them are going around so you never know which one it is."
The only treatments are supportive, but prevention is simple.
“Hand hygiene multiple times a day, hand washing, as well as if you are sick -- staying away from other people is the key,” Poursina said.
Travelers are buzzing about the illness as five airports in the U.S. have additional screening for people coming from China. Several of those airports have flights connecting to Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
“I know the CDC is on top of it, I’ve been following it on my phone,” Patty Pohland said.
Dr. Poursina doesn’t think people here should panic, but be aware of it.
“Expect some delay at the airports obviously if you're traveling to those kind of places," Poursina said. "When you come back home, you're going to be screened and questioned and make sure you're not bringing the disease back with you."
Many people are already taking extra precautions.
“I would just wash my hands use precautions like that and if anyone is obviously sneezing or coughing, stay away from that person,” Pohland said.
The CDC says the risk to the greater American public is low at this time, although there may be a few more isolated cases in people who have traveled to China.