While the World Focuses on Coronavirus, Let’s Not Forget the Flu Virus

While the World Focuses on Coronavirus, Let’s Not Forget the Flu Virus
News of the coronavirus is spreading across the world like, well, a virus. In the U.S., people are bombarded with warnings about the dangers of the disease, which has claimed more than 100 lives in China. Confirmed cases have reached 6,000 as of Wednesday. The numbers could go higher. News about a strange virus in a faraway country would not have been as disconcerting a few decades ago. But the world has become a much smaller place and the threat is real. The United States is screening for the coronavirus at its borders and has expanded screenings from five international airports to 20. And in an effort to batten down the hatches, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is discouraging travel to China.

Balancing concern

As of earlier this week, the CDC had confirmed five cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. That is cause for concern, but it is important that we put the news in perspective. Compare the coronavirus reports to the numbers relating to the flu. So far this season, the CDC reports that 15 million people have contracted the flu. Of those, 140,000 have been hospitalized and 8,200 have died.

Balancing fear

Fear of contracting the coronavirus seems to be spreading in the U.S., perhaps because there’s not a definitive treatment. There isn’t a vaccine and there’s no cure. Most patients will get better, but it’s a waiting game. In a country of over 329 million people, only five have contracted the coronavirus. But it is feared more than the influenza virus that
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