Visitors restricted in Knox County hospital during coronavirus outbreak

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Knox County Health Department held a press conference Thursday afternoon to give an update on coronavirus concerns in Knox County.

Dr. Marth Buchanan said officials expect to see more confirmed cases in the future.

Buchanan said all hospitals in the area have a plan in place for patients with coronavirus and are prepared for an increase in patients.

Knox County hospitals are limiting visitors to reduce the risk of patients being exposed to coronavirus. Hospitals will begin placing signs throughout the facilities saying only people required for patient care are allowed. Health officials are also asking anyone who is sick to refrain from visiting hospitals during this time.

Health officials encourage community members to practice social distancing. Buchanan said everyone should try to stay 3 to 6 feet away from others and limit personal contact.

Anyone who believes they are showing flu-like symptoms should contact their primary care doctor to be tested for coronavirus. The specimens will be sent to commercial labs for testing. People who are considered high risk or have recently traveled to an at-risk area will be sent to the Department of Health.

Patients who are considered high risk are those with respiratory conditions, heart disease, diabetes and autoimmune diseases.

Health officials said 80 percent of cases are mild and don't require medical attention. If symptoms get worse patients are asked to seek medical care immediately.

Guidance released by the CDC advises practicing preventative measures to help stop an outbreak in your community by:

- Avoiding contact with people who are sick
- If you are sick, stay home
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue
- Clean frequently touched surfaces daily
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol

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