Wisconsin healthcare professionals taking precautions to contain Wuhan coronavirus

GLENDALE -- The total number of confirmed Wuhan coronavirus cases worldwide is climbing rapidly -- surpassing 6,000 with more than 130 deaths. As of Wednesday, Jan. 29, there were still no confirmed cases of it in Wisconsin -- but healthcare professionals warned that it likely won't stay that way for long.

As the numbers climb and a travel ban in China widens, healthcare professionals in Wisconsin were preparing for the Wuhan coronavirus to pop up here.

Vicki Rizik

"We need to be asking the right questions and taking the appropriate precautions," said Vicki Rizk, a physician assistant for Ascension Columbia St. Mary's at River Woods Urgent Care.

Those precautions are vital to containing the disease, Rizk said: "The nurses are doing screening questions to see if you have traveled to China and, if so, to what region."

Rizk said other questions and tests may follow, and if necessary, a patient's case will be referred to the state health department. Still, she said initial screenings aren't perfect.

"Some people could be infected, and not actually know they're spreading (coronavirus) to others," says Rizk.

Currently, one patient in Wisconsin tested negative for the Wuhan coronavirus, while six others were still awaiting their results. Meanwhile, five U.S. cases have been confirmed in four states -- Washington, California, Arizona and Illinois.

Wednesday, more than 200 Americans returned to the U.S. -- escaping the disease's country of origin, China. But while awareness about coronavirus is increasing, Rizk is urging the public not to forget about the flu.

"(There's) still enough time to get the flu shot. It is helpful," Rizk said. "(But) the majority of people with influenza this year have not gotten the vaccine."

In an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus, The Beijing Center has announced that it will indefinitely suspend study abroad programs to the area for its Spring 2020 semester. FOX6 News was told that will impact at least one Marquette University student who was planning to attend.