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Experts, residents prepare for possible coronavirus spread

Posted at 5:55 PM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-30 18:55:57-05

MILWAUKEE — The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak as a global health emergency. Wednesday, the first person-to-person transfer of the virus in the United States was reported in Chicago.

Just 90 miles south of Milwaukee, the coronavirus has made it way far from where it originated in Wuhan, China.

Because of that, preparations for the virus are well underway,

"Our team members are trained. Our staff is educated about the novel coronavirus," said Nkem Irogebu, Chief Medical Officer at Aurora St. Luke's.

Dr. Iroegbu said that education included determining how the virus is transmitted and how it can be treated. He said it is similar to the process the healthcare industry went through with outbreaks of respiratory viruses in the past like SARS and MERS.

"These caused a lot of challenges for healthcare professionals and this year we're dealing with a new [coronavirus] strain," Iroegbu said.

From learning about how its transmitted, to preparing enough isolations rooms, hospital leaders said the hospital is ready to respond to the coronavirus.

While the threat remains at bay in Wisconsin, in China, there is a full-on outbreak. Anna Pan’s family lives in a neighboring province to Wuhan, China, where coronavirus originated.

"It's like Wisconsin to Minnesota," she said.

She hoped to travel to China for one of its biggest celebrations of the year.

"During Spring Festival, we were supposed to visit relatives, but my family canceled all activities," Pan said.

There are currently no reported cases of the coronavirus in Wisconsin.

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