Coronavirus outbreak: Bay Area expert discusses if we should worry about COVID-19

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Do we need to be worried about the coronavirus? "It is a new virus, and new viruses are unpredictable," said Dr. Arthur Reingold, head of epidemiology at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health.

One of the big unknowns is if coronavirus is transmissible on surfaces like door knobs or computers.

"The question is how long does it remain infectious on the surface. Is it a matter of days? Some viruses remain infectious on a surface for a week or more," Dr. Reingold said. "Others more like a day or two. For this virus, we certainly don't know and no one has figured that out yet as far as I know."

Should people in the Bay Area avoid things right now like postponing elective surgery or avoiding mass transit?

"I personally would not change any of those things for myself or for my family," Dr. Reingold said. "I don't think they need to change their habits. I am not changing my habits. I'll get on BART, I'll pick my wife up from the airport tonight. Within the U.S. right now, I am personally not planning to change my behavior at all," he said.

For international travel, Dr. Reingold said he will weigh the risk of getting quarantined somewhere, but he's not necessarily worried about getting sick himself.

Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director, World Health Organization explained the importance of those quarantines. "We have to keep this virus slowed down because health systems around the world, north and south, just aren't ready," he said.

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