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Health officials try to calm coronavirus fears as Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland prepares to house evacuees from China

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA NEWS) – Security will be tight for U.S. citizens brought to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland from China amid the Novel coronavirus outbreak. They’re scheduled to arrive later this week and will be kept in isolation on the base.

Dr. Anita Kurian, assistant director of San Antonio Metro Health, says they won’t have any contact with the general population

“Their movements are restricted to their living quarters within the installation and they are being followed up for 14 days to make sure that they don’t become symptomatic,” said Kurian.

But what about the people who provide food and other services for the evacuees.

“They’ll be using gloves, masks, gowns, respiratory protection and protective eye shields, like goggles and face shields,” said Kurian.

Assistant City Manager, Dr. Colleen Bridger, says San Antonio residents and other Texans who may be returning after traveling to China will go through DFW Airport.

“At DFW Airport, they will be screened by CDC employees and local public health employees to see if they have any symptoms or if they’re at high risk for developing those symptoms,” said Bridger.

If they are, they’ll be kept in the DFW area. If not, they will be allowed to return to their hometowns and report to the health department.

She says at this time, here are no cases of coronavirus in Texas, Bexar County or San Antonio. Bridger says the flu is a greater threat with 10,000 deaths reported during the 2019-2020 flu season.

Will surgical masks protect you from contracting the flu or coronavirus?

Bridger says both are spread by droplets, so if you’re sick, it’s a good idea to wear a mask to keep you from spreading a virus. However, a surgical mask isn’t enough to keep you from catching the flu or coronavirus from somebody else if they sneeze near you because your eyes aren’t covered.

San Antonio Metro Health Director Dawn Emerick says the best way to keep the flu from spreading is to stay home and isolate yourself. One of the best protections is to get a flu vaccine and wash your hands often for at least two minutes every time.

“One of the best ways to do that with your children is to sing the ABC’s and sing that song 3 to 4 times while the water is running and the suds are on your hands,” said Emerick.


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