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Binghamton, county health officials plan ahead of Coronavirus

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(WBNG) -- The Coronavirus has infected more than 600 people in six countries, including one reported case in the United States.

In the Southern Tier, public health officials are taking preventative measures in the event the Coronavirus spreads.

"They're calling it Coronavirus 2019. We named two a few years ago, we had MERS and we had SARS," said Susan Lent, an infection preventionist at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton.

The virus falls into a category of "Coronaviruses". Symptoms of this particular strain include a runny nose, coughing, fever, headaches, and a sore throat.

"Coronaviruses could move from an animal species into a human, and then evolution happens and that virus gains the ability to transmit from person to person," said Broome County Health Department Medical Director Dr. Chris Ryan.

With only one confirmed case in Seattle, local health officials are planning ahead, but they say they are not too worried yet.

"Typical residents in Broome County, we don't expect this to be much of a problem," said Dr. Ryan.

If the Coronavirus were to spread within the U.S., there are causes for concern.

"If we do not contain it and it can cause people to die, and one of the things is that the symptoms can go to pneumonia. One thing leads to another and it's showing a high rate of mortality," said Lent.

The disease is airborne, meaning it can be transmitted by coming in contact with an infected individual. Health officials say there are a few things you can do to stay healthy.

"If you're in a crowded situation, that kind of thing, wash your hands, cover your mouth, have good cough etiquette so that you're not spreading it through the airborne or through contact," said Lent.

If you think you are experiencing any symptoms, you should only be concerned if you have traveled to infected areas in the last 14 days.

For a list of travel advisories and updates on the Coronavirus, head over to the CDC's website.

Katie Jones

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