Coronavirus raises concerns about LA-area Lunar New Year celebrations

While Lunar New year events are being canceled throughout China amid coronavirus cases, festivities here at home are expected go on as scheduled.

But with news of the novel coronavirus in the U.S., many with relatives and friends visiting from China have a lot of questions.

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"I hear a lot of people talking about," said Mei Ling Zhou of Covina.

Zhou is an interpreter at Emanate Health Inter-Community Hospital. Many of her patients are travelers from China.

"We do run into some of the people. They're scared of going back because they're already here," Zhou said.

Emanate Health's Inter-Community Hospital Medical Director, Dr. Kevin Hua, said, "We anticipate seeing a lot of travelers."

As more U.S. cases of the novel coronavirus continue to be identified, Hua said his staff is prepared.

"Screening them for travel history within the last two weeks," Hua said. "Going to Asia, particularly China in the Wuhan province."

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New information from the CDC reveals symptoms can be more than just the common cold. Symptoms include cough, runny nose, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, palpitations and conjunctivitis.

"It can get worse and go into respiratory distress, sepsis and even death," Hua said.

Like the SARS virus, this coronavirus did come from animals. But unlike SARS, initial reports of cases are less severe. Yet, doctors warn, we're still in the early stages.

Hua said, "It's a newly identified virus. We know very little about the virus itself."

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At this point, L.A. County Department of Public Health officials say there's no reason to avoid community celebrations.

"Wash your hands if you're going to be in contact with other folks. That's the best practice. If you cough or sneeze, cough into your elbow, instead of coughing into your hands," Hua said.

Zhou prefers to err on the side of caution. She's telling her family to skip travel plans and just communicate by phone and video chat.

"We can keep connected but try not to have so much personal contact," she said. "We can go another time, but not right now. Our health is more important."
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