Some New Orleans students worry about family in China amidst Coronavirus outbreak

Updated: Jan. 31, 2020 at 10:01 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - "I'm worried about my parents' daily life because I don't know the real situation back in China."

A Tulane graduate student fears for his family back home as the death toll rises in the Coronavirus outbreak.

China confirms more than 11,000 cases of the virus. Though doctors say people in the United States have more pressing concerns, some locals with family in China say they cannot help but worry.

“If we don’t have a virus maybe I would be home now,” said a Tulane graduate student who asked to remain anonymous.

His home is China, where the country is on holiday for its Lunar New Year. This stateside student had hoped to celebrate with his parents but feared he’d have trouble returning, due to potential travel bans associated with the Coronavirus.

“The virus in China is like, many of the people stopped their businesses and many people can’t go to school and both my parents are professors,” explained the Tulane student.

With limited information out of China, the student worries about his parents every day.

“I don’t want them to go to the supermarket to buy stuff and I don’t want them to go out but they have to because they have to cook. They have to live so I’m concerned a lot about my family,” he said.

The World Health Organization, Thursday, officially declared the Corona virus a public health emergency of international concern.

“What it really means is they consider it serious. The virus itself is spreading across international borders,” said Dr. Fred Lopez with LSU Health Infectious Diseases.

Now in at least 20 countries, the virus is being blamed for over 250 deaths.

“What’s concerning is a human to human transmission now is really going to dictate how many cases we see-- if it becomes more effective transmitting itself between humans and humans,” Dr. Lopez explained.

Yet, Lopez says the new designation should not be cause for alarm. He says the purpose is to increase resources, information sharing, and to accelerate better testing and vaccines.

“And, hopefully, identifying treatments for this in order to prevent the outbreak from getting worse,” said Dr. Lopez.

It’s an encouraging notion for the Tulane student who lives in constant uncertainty and concern.

“I want to know the real situation back in China but I can’t get much information because people say we have to trust in our government,” said the student. “In the US, some people may produce some negative information about the Asian people. They may say Asian people are dangerous. I want to say to my brothers and sisters living in the U.S., like me, don’t be afraid.”

Dr. Lopez says the Coronavirus has a lower mortality rate than scientists previously thought and it's less contagious than illnesses like the Measles. Even so, he says here in the United States, residents should be much more concerned about the flu. It's more prevalent and it's been a very active season, especially in Louisiana.

Every year, the flu kills an average 35,000 people in the United States.

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