Dr. Mehmet Oz is urging people to avoid shaking hands during the coronavirus outbreak. The daytime talk show host warned that the virus is five times more contagious than the seasonal flu and handshakes could help spread the disease. At least 14 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S., including 12 in Washington state alone.
"This is the most contagious virus I'm aware of," Oz told TMZ Friday. "You know the seasonal flu virus? If I have it, I can pass it to nine people over the course of the week. If I've got coronavirus, 45 people will get it."
The "crazy thing," according to Oz, is people do not just have to worry about handshakes.
"The virus lives a long time on surfaces, so if you in the media touch something that was touched by someone with coronavirus a week ago, you get can get it on your hand. Then, you shake the celebrity's hand, or vice versa, then everyone's sick again!"
Oz said he would avoid shaking hands, and noted that more germs could pass through handshakes than a fist bump.
Coincidentally, the NBA released a statement encouraging fist-pumps instead of high-fives with fans. The league also asked players to avoid taking items like pens, balls and jerseys to autograph.
"The health and safety of our employees, teams, players and fans is paramount," the NBA said in a statement to the Associated Press. "We are coordinating with our teams and consulting with the CDC and infectious disease specialists on the coronavirus and continue to monitor the situation closely."
Oz has been busy outside The Dr. Oz Show, warning people to take precautions due to the coronavirus. On Friday, he also appeared on The Today Show to point out how dangerous the virus is to those 60 and older.
"The number one risk factor, interestingly, is cardiovascular disease, hardening of the arteries, of your heart, your brain, in particular," he said, adding that COPD, diabetes, cancer and hypertension are risk factors as well.
Oz said young people could be comfortable traveling, but those 60 and over should avoid it.
"I like the 'arms-length rule,'" he told Today. "If you're in rush hour traffic, if you're in crowded places, you're playing Bingo, at a sporting event and you can't be at arm's length away from the person next to you, that puts you at a little increased risk. You don't know who’s there, who was there. Why take a chance?"
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak started in Wuhan City, China in December 2019. There are now over 100,000 confirmed cases worldwide. While there is no vaccine available to prevent it, the Centers for Disease Control has suggested people take the same precautions they use to avoid getting the flu.
On Friday morning, President Donald Trump signed an $8.3 billion emergency spending package to fund vaccine research and to help catch up with other countries already testing for the virus, reports CBS News. The World Health Organization asked every country to pull out "all the stops" and start testing people and to take measures to control outbreaks.
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