But with the Centers for Disease Control confirming at least five coronavirus cases in the U.S. Monday, with each case stemming from travelers returning from recent travel to China, Dr. Oz urged Americans to stay calm by highlighting the fact that the virus’ so-far documented 2% mortality rate trails the 10% mortality rate of SARS by a wide margin.
“I’m not handing out masks, I don’t think people oughta be wearing them,” he said. “The best thing to do is auto-immunize yourself by washing your hands and I know that sounds so simple and almost dumb to mention, but we touch our fingers to our face thousands of time a day. And the most common way we’ll get infected is someone coughs and the droplets land on the armrest and I put my hand there 10 minutes, an hour later without knowing you were sick and then I touch my nose and it gets into my mouth.”
In comparing the panic over the new Wuhan coronavirus strain, Dr. Oz further batted down concerns by comparing it to the common flu or influenza virus, which according to the CDC has claimed an estimated 12,000 to 61,000 lives annually since 2010.
“I don’t understand why we’re not more panicked about the regular old fashioned influenza virus,” he said. “SARS took 800 lives. So this virus is probably not going to be anywhere close to the magnitude of impact of the influenza virus and yet we’re panicked by it.”