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Coronavirus vs. flu, what you need to know

More than 100,000 people have gotten sick from the flu this season in Pennsylvania. So far, there have been no confirmed coronavirus cases

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania's Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levin tells us people are more likely to get sick from flu than coronavirus. 

Since September, in Pennsylvania there have been more than 100,000 cases of flu resulting in 74 deaths. So far, no confirmed cases of coronavirus but, Dr. Levine says, they have been testing a number of patients for the virus but as of Wednesday morning none have come back positive. 

The World Health Organization acknowledges much of the fear surrounding coronavirus is because it's an unknown illness. WHO says, the similarity between coronavirus and flu is that they are respiratory diseases and are spread by droplets from coughing or sneezing. In fact, flu spread much easier than coronavirus because people spread germs even if they don't have symptoms. 

While 80 percent of people infected with coronavirus experience mild symptoms, the virus can be more severe than flu because it is brand new. The death rate for flu is less than one percent, for coronavirus it's just a bit higher at two to three percent. 

"Many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "COVID-19 is a new coronavirus to which no one has immunity."

To avoid getting a respiratory illness like coronavirus or flu, experts recommend:

  • Avoid contact with people who are sick 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces 
  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 second 
  • If you are sick, don't go to work or school and go to a doctor 

For more on coronavirus, click here. For more on flu, click here.