Want to avoid coronavirus? Health expert advice here

LOS GATOS, Calif. (KGO) -- The expanding outbreak of coronavirus in China has disappointed 25 students at Hillbrook, a private school in Los Gatos. Their trip to China has been cancelled as the U.S. issued a travel warning to avoid non-essential travel there.

The outbreak has Americans concerned how to avoid getting infected with the virus.

It's human nature that people can be worried about contracting the new strain of coronavirus. However, the nation's top health officials say Americans shouldn't be worried.

"This is a potentially very serious public health threat," said U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services Alex Azar. "But at this point, Americans should not worry for their own safety."

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There are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Bay Area, yet you see people wearing face masks for protection. San Francisco and Santa Clara County public health departments say masks are not needed.

"We're not seeing any evidence of person to person transmission of novel coronavirus in the United States," said Marianna Moles from Santa Clara Public Health. "What people need to remember is that the mask is really used for is if you are having symptoms."

Until more is known about transmission, should people avoid large gatherings at theaters, for example, or Super Bowl parties?

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"It's flu season, it's cold season," said Marianna Moles. "If you're not feeling well, don't go to a gathering where there's lots of people."

However, the CDC and other agencies are only starting to learn about the new strain of coronavirus. New guidelines may result once more is known.

"We're going to have to evaluate carefully what's happening in China to really understand the biology of this virus and how it's transmitted," said Dr. Tomas Aragon, San Francisco's public health director. "It's too soon for us to be able to know what's going to happen."

Until more is known, the CDC says to follow common sense for any virus, such as:

  • Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds

  • Use hand sanitizers when water isn't available

  • Use disinfecting wipes to clean surfaces

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands

Take a look at the latest stories and videos about the coronavirus here.
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