AUMC takes precautions on coronavirus as untrue rumors swell

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Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020

(Source: MGN Online)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- After rumors of a potential case of coronavirus swirled, Augusta University Health moved to stop the rumors in their tracks.

In a statement, AU's chief medical officer, Dr. Phillip Coule, said there had been no positive cases of the virus and no one under investigation.

Officials believe the rumor came from concern about several particular cases that turned out to be nothing more than flu-like illnesses.

Coule says they're hoping for the best, but planning for the worst. Previous flu pandemics and disaster training have prepared them with resources and experience. The hospital's infectious disease team and laboratory staff is working around the clock.

"So we have a whole team that actually works on this who were ready before the first person we were ever concerned about, and we put that team into action, and when we've had to do it, it's worked incredibly well," Coule said.

As United States citizens become weary of the unknown threat of the coronavirus, many are asking if there is a local capability to test for the virus.

"Currently the CDC and a few state departments of public health are the only locations capable of testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus to confirm infection," Coule said. "Augusta University Health has a variety of advanced testing capabilities to detect the presence of other viruses including other coronaviruses. The diagnosis of SARS-CoV2 is essentially made by evaluating the risk associated with exposure and testing positive for other viruses that explain the symptoms. If the person meets the Person Under Investigation definition of the CDC we collect the samples and send them to the CDC for testing. We have explored and continue to explore acquiring the testing capability here but have not acquired it as of yet.”

The virus has caused concerns for people around the world as the CDC said Tuesday that the illness is expected to spread in the US.

“It’s not so much a matter of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said.

AUMC says their team is studying the strain of the virus, assessing the spread of it, and measuring how and when an Augusta response will be needed.

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