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City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Matthai Chakko, (510) 981-7008

Get a flu shot, stay home if sick and wash hands regularly

Berkeley, California (Tuesday, January 28, 2020) - We are now in the midst of flu season, and anyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu shot - especially those whose chronic medical conditions put them at high-risk for flu-related complications.

You can further protect yourself by:

  • Staying home from school or work if you are sick
  • Washing your hands regularly with soap and warm water
  • Avoiding contact with people who are ill
  • Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, upper sleeve or elbow

General flu recommendations have greater importance

These recommendations, which are current as of Feb. 10, have heightened importance now, as public health officials are monitoring travelers from a specific city in China for a new virus that is causing concern because medical officials are still learning about its impact and how it spreads.

A Bay Area resident's chances of getting this new virus, the coronavirus, are far less likely than getting the seasonal flu - and the symptoms can be identical: including fever, cough, or trouble breathing.  

If you have those symptoms, medical officials want to know two other things:

  • Have you traveled outside of the United States, especially Wuhan, China
  • Have you had close contact with someone who is ill and recently traveled outside the United States, especially Wuhan, China?

If the answer is yes to either of those two questions, contact your medical provider immediately. See CDC guidelines on symptoms if you need more clarity.

Public Health Taking Action

Berkeley Public Health, along with public health workers around the region and nation, routinely track those with reported symptoms of certain contagious diseases, monitor people through the illness and often reach out to those who may have been in contact with the infectious person.

Those steps significantly lessen the spread of communicable diseases.

In Berkeley and around the Bay Area, public health workers have been working closely with health care providers to ensure that potential cases of coronavirus can be quickly identified. Travelers coming through San Francisco International and other airports have been monitored since mid-January. 

With coronavirus situation evolving, seasonal flu remains a concern

The understanding of coronavirus rapidly evolving.  As of Feb. 10, there have been 37,558 cases of the coronavirus globally, and 813 were fatal, according to the World Health Organization. Of all global cases, 99.2% have been in China and one person in the Philippines is the only fatality outside China. In the United States, there have been 12 coronavirus cases, none of which have been fatal, according to the CDC.

By contrast, CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 15 million flu illnesses in the United States alone, 140,000 hospitalizations and 8,200 deaths from flu.

"If you haven't traveled to Wuhan or come into close contact with someone who is ill and traveled to Wuhan, the risk is low," said Dr. Lisa Hernandez, Berkeley's health officer. "Nonetheless, we are preparing for a potential case.

"For everyone else, by taking steps to protect yourself from the cold, flu and other viruses, you'll help strengthen public health for all."

For more information, see: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus

This message was updated to include the most recent information from the CDC as of Feb. 5, 2020. 


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