LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — As the coronavirus outbreak continues, people are posing more and more questions. KCAL9 spoke to an expert, infectious diseases physician Dr. Suman Radhakrishna of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, to give insight into some of the facts and myths surrounding the virus. Here’s what she shared:

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Reactions to the outbreak

KCAL9: How should we be approaching this situation?

Radhakrishna: People react differently to information. The most common ideas people have is they start to panic or some others think this is a conspiracy theory. There is coronavirus in the community and there seems to be more information that says that we are having person-to-person transmission, but also we know that it is not as bad as we thought it should be. Most of the people have mild disease and they do just fine. That is important to also remember.

Protecting yourself and your family

KCAL9: What are some unhelpful and helpful ways to protect yourself?

Radhakrishna: The most important thing: If you don’t have any symptoms, wearing a mask is not protective. Instead, what is protective is to wash your hands and use hand sanitizer and avoid touching your face, your mouth, your eyes and nose area. If someone is sick, they should cover their cough with a mask. Most people have mild disease so they’re most likely going to be at home and cared for by other family members. If possible, separate the room where they’re at, do not share towels and have separate bathrooms.

Community transmission

KCAL9: Do you think community transmission is inevitable in Southern California?

Radhakrishna: This is a brand new viral infection. We don’t know everything about it. We are basing our thoughts and recommendations based on what we have seen so far and so you should always be prepared for the worst. Person-to-person transmission is possible and it has been demonstrated. Let’s be careful. Just like any cold or cough that people get during this time period, including influenza, we try to limit people who are ill from spreading it to other people. Let’s do the same thing. Have them stay at home if they are sick until they’re feeling better and they can go back to work. Most people with COVID-19 (the formal name for coronavirus), have mild symptoms or can be asymptomatic, so these are the individuals that are most at risk for giving it to other people. So if you can take off from work and you are ill, please do so and stay away from your family members so that you don’t transmit it to other members in your family.

Virus transmission through surfaces

KCAL9: Can someone catch the virus by touching a surface that has droplets from an infected person? How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

Radhakrishna: There’s a lot of information on COVID-19 that we don’t have. We do know that it can stay on that surface for hours and the most common place, where it’s difficult to clean, are your keyboards, where people have coughed and sneezed. When someone comes to that work station and starts using it and then subsequently touches their face area, they’re at risk of inoculating the infection to themselves. That’s why we’re telling them to use the hand sanitizer, wash your hands frequently and do not touch your face.

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For up-to-date information about the coronavirus and how to protect yourself, please monitor the CDC’s website.

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