Busting coronavirus myths

Posted at 1:27 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-19 13:28:52-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As cases of the coronavirus rise in China, misconceptions have spread across the United States.

"Obviously fear spreads faster than any virus or infection will,” said Dr. Derek Forster, the Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at UK Healthcare.

That fear is causing myths to pop up about the coronavirus, including how it is spread.

"It seems to be spread much like any other respiratory virus, like the flu for example, which would be close contact with somebody who is coughing, sneezing, creating droplets that come out when you do those things,” said Dr. Forster.

However, he says there's no evidence to suggest the virus is airborne, meaning you're not likely to get it just by sharing space.

When it comes to worries about interacting with people who have recently come to the U.S. from China, Dr. Forster says the risk depends on exactly where in China the person was located.

"Understanding that first and foremost for people that are coming back that haven't had any known exposure, that are not having symptoms, that haven't been in healthcare, that's a very low risk situation,” said Dr. Forster. “Unless they're from Hubei Province, where there is increased activity and a risk compared to the rest of the parts of China."

Dr. Forster also says there have been concerns about visitors from other Asian countries, like Thailand and Japan. While there have been some cases in those countries, there is still a low risk.

The only way to protect yourself is essentially the same way you'd avoid getting the cold; wash your hands and stay away from others who show symptoms of illness. There is no vaccine or medication yet to prevent getting the coronavirus.

If you're not sure about what's true and what's false, Dr. Forster suggests finding information through the Centers for Disease Control ( or the World Health Organization (

According to the CDC, there have been 15 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in seven states. Kentucky is not one of them.