Duval County

A Jacksonville University microbiology expert says you don’t need to worry about the coronavirus

A Florida airport has now been added to the list of U.S. airports screening for the coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now has dedicated staffers at Miami International Airport conducting extra screenings.

With only days until the Super Bowl, the state is expecting to see a major influx of tourists.

But Jacksonville University professor Dr. Anthony Ouellette says you don’t need to worry right now.

Ouellette is a professor of biology and chemistry. Action News Jax stopped by one of his labs Wednesday.

Since early January, he and his students have monitored the spread of the coronavirus every day.

“Before every day they come into class, they’re writing essays on it. We’re working in discussions,” said Ouellette.

While he’s not currently working on the new coronavirus, he does know a great deal about it given his microbiology background.

Ouellette said there been inaccurate information floating around on social media, so Action News Jax wanted to separate fact from fiction.

“If you’re in the United States, should you be concerned?” asked Lorena Inclan.

“Depends on where you’re at, if you have been close to somebody who has tested positive for it,” said Ouellette.

According to the World Health Organization, there are 6,065 confirmed cases worldwide, but Ouellette said it could be much higher than that.

“Even though there are 6,000 confirmed cases, there’s a lot more actual cases that just haven’t been confirmed yet,” he said.

There are only five confirmed cases in the U.S., while 92 are under investigation by the CDC.

But before you get alarmed, Ouellette put it in perspective for us.

“This new coronavirus looks like it’s really genetically very similar to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), which caused quite a deadly outbreak, but that mortality rate was 10%, whereas right now, the mortality rate of this novel coronavirus is really only at about 2% to 3%, thank goodness,” he said.

The virus looks like a crown under a microscope, hence the term coronavirus.

Ouellette said like most coronaviruses, it’s got a membrane, meaning a thin layer acting as a barrier. He said hand sanitizer and washing your hands inactivates it well.

While good hygiene is important regardless of any potential outbreaks, Ouellette said for those of us here in the U.S., there’s no need to worry.

“In the United States, really, I don’t think there’s much of a concern right now. If we start getting more information that cases start popping up rapidly, then I would say at that point, there would be cause for concern,” said Ouellette.