South Bay researchers working to learn more about coronavirus transmission

As more cases of the potentially deadly Coronavirus continue to emerge, researchers continue their work trying to learn more about the disease’s transmission.

Tuesday, five hospital workers at San Jose’s Good Samaritan Hospital were quarantined due to contact with people infected with the Coronavirus. In a statement, hospital officials say the workers “are on paid leave until the isolation period concludes,” February 11th. This action, “…does not mean any of these employees will contract the virus as the risk is extremely low,” wrote Chris Brown in an email to FOX 2.

“I don’t think anybody should panic. And I really think it’s inappropriate to try to panic the public about this. This is not a panic situation. We need to be calm and we need to be rational about this,” said Dr. Bonnie Maldonado, a Stanford University epidemiologist.

She says the Coronavirus is a respiratory virus, spread several ways. The first is through direct contact with an infected person, where the virus passes through droplets containing the virus.

“You have to be close to the person to get some of those droplets on you somewhere. Or you may touch a surface where the droplets fell with virus on it, and you may touch your face, your nose mouth or eyes, and you can become infected,” she said.

Maldonado says currently there’s no evidence showing Coronavirus can be spread through a second way, in the air, with microscopic droplets carrying the infection as it’s inhaled by an unsuspecting person. But researchers are still investigating.

“If I came in the room where somebody was sick with one of those viruses, and they walked out, those little droplets would still be in the air and I could become infected if I was susceptible,” said Dr. Maldonado.

A third way of possible transmission was found in China Wednesday. A new born baby whose mother was infected with Coronavirus, tested positive for that virus. Doctors aren’t sure if transmission occurred via bodily fluids while a fetus, or after birth.

“It’s concerning because it’s a new mechanism for transmission,” said Maldonado. “In the U-S right now, there is no evidence that the virus is actively circulating.

Doctor Maldonado says doctors and researchers are learning more about Coronavirus with each case, and says at present, this is something as bad as the flu, but doesn’t rise to the level of measles..

“If it were really transmissible, we would have already seen cases of the contacts of the contacts of the contacts,” said Maldonado.

She says avoiding contact with infected persons or places, such as Wuhan, China, is the best defense to stem both the virus, and the growing fear associated with it.