By WVUA 23 Reporter Chelsea Barton

Even though there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Alabama as of Thursday, medical professionals here in Tuscaloosa are prepared to test patients and house them if they test positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Thomas Weida is the chief medical officer at the University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences. He sat down with WVUA 23 today to talk all things coronavirus and how the University of Alabama is preparing.

“Coronavirus is a virus that is somewhat similar to a flu virus,” he said. “It’s very transmissible and as a result it gives very similar symptoms. You get fever, cough, maybe some chills, and shortness of breath. What it usually doesn’t have is a sore throat.”

With students going home and on trips to all over the world next week as part of spring break, concerns are rising of what they will bring back with them.

“There is policy that traveling to foreign countries is strongly discouraged and if you are going to an area that is potentially infected, 14 days of voluntary quarantine is recommended. We can’t force people to quarantine, but it is strongly suggested to protect co-workers,” Weida said.

Symptoms include fever, coughing, chills and shortness of breath. People can be tested for coronavirus at DCH and the UA Medical Center.

“There is policy that travel to international countries is strongly discouraged,” Weida said. “If you are going to an area that is potentially infected or had contact, 14 days of voluntary quarantine is recommended. We don’t have the ability to do enforce the quarantine, but certainly it would make sense to do so for the protection of your fellow students and faculty members.

Weida said to avoid panic, it’s important to remember that most people who have had coronavirus have not died.

“Most people have gotten over it,” he said. “This is not a death sentence because you have coronavirus. Maybe if you drank too many Coronas (beers) and drove, that would be a death sentence.”

Weida said a vaccine for coronavirus likely won’t be developed for at least one year. The current antiviral treatments we have are not effective against COVID-19. A new antiviral is being tested on patients in China, but those results have not been published.

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