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Medical professional in SA explains how coronavirus spreads, preventable measures

Being so close to the coronavirus, some people in San Antonio are worried they may get sick.

SAN ANTONIO — Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they're preparing for a pandemic. It's not a question of "if" the coronavirus will spread to the U.S. but "when". 

"We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare in the expectation that this could be bad," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the CDC's director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The second round of travelers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship is still under quarantine at JBSA-Lackland. So far, there have been six confirmed cases of the coronavirus in San Antonio.

Kristopher Richardson is a physician assistant with FastMed Urgent Care. He said people are coming in with flu-like symptoms, thinking they may be next.

"It can affect anyone," Richardson said. "It doesn't really have a preference, you just have to be exposed to it."

Even though we're close to the virus, Richardson said you would have to come in contact with someone who's infected to get it.

"If you haven't actually been exposed to someone who has a known positive test for the disease or traveled to China, then you really don't have to worry about it," Richardson said.

Richardson said the coronavirus only spreads through respiratory droplets. If you're close enough to someone with the disease and they cough or sneeze near you, that's when you could get sick.

"In most people, they'll experience fever, cough or shortness of breath," Richardson said.

At this point, there's no vaccine for the coronavirus. Richardson said people should wash their hands often, practice good cough hygiene and wipe down surfaces in their home and work, just to be safe.

"As long as you take those preventative measures, the likelihood that you're going to get the coronavirus is a lot lower than people might think, even with these known positive tests from patients here in San Antonio," Richardson said.

CDC officials is warning U.S citizens to prepare for "disruption to everyday life" in the case of a pandemic. To limit contact with others, businesses and schools may start to close. The CDC said communities should also plan to "modify, postpone or cancel large gatherings".