Coronavirus: Experts answer most-asked questions in ABC7 virtual town hall

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Tuesday, March 10, 2020
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Doctors from UCLA Health answered your questions and concerns about COVID-19.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A panel of experts from the UCLA Health system answered some of the most common questions about coronavirus in a virtual town hall hosted by Eyewitness News.

The questions ranged from how the virus spreads to what dangers it poses to those who interact with the public. To see many of the questions answered, continue watching videos in the player above.

The experts from UCLA Health were: Dr. Lisa Dabby, Dr. Jena Lee, Dr. Brian Prestwich, Dr. Jay Espejo, Dr. Anuradha Seshadri.

Q: Is it possible to carry the virus and not show any symptoms?

Yes. Data from China show a wide range of severity in the symptoms that people display, according to Dr. Lisa Dabby. About 1-2% don't show any symptoms at all, yet can still carry and spread the virus. "Which makes it a little tricky when you think about quarantining," Dabby said. "Because it's hard to quarantine people who don't have any symptoms at all."

Q: How contagious is coronavirus?

The virus spreads in ways similar to the flu in that it is generally acquired through touching surfaces and hands, but is less likely to spread through the air, Dr. Brian Prestwich says. That's why the best advice is to wash your hands often and keep your distance. "It's overall a little more contagious because most of us don't have any immunity yet," he noted.

Q: My son works at a grocery store. How safe are people like him who interact with the public at work?

Dr. Dabby says the key is keeping good hygiene and staying a distance away from people who appear to be sick. "Hopefully sick people aren't going to the market, but if they are, keep your distance from people who are coughing and sneezing."

Q: Is it safe to fly and if so, what precautions should you take?

Dr. Seshadri notes that airplanes have HEPA air filters that filter the air every four minutes, so airborne transmission through the recirculated air should not be a big concern. Of greater concern is the surfaces touched by multiple people. She advises wiping down common surfaces such as tray tables and arm rests before touching them. As for whether you should fly at all, she says if you're in doubt, consult your own doctor. There is a bigger risk if you are traveling to high-risk countries, including China, Italy and South Korea. There is also a higher risk if you are elderly or have underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or HIV.