PLEASANT HILL (KPIX 5) — There’s been some talk lately comparing the common flu virus with the coronavirus.

KPIX met with Dr. John Swartzberg, clinical professor for Public Health, Emeritus, at the University of California, Berkeley, to hear his thoughts about that comparison.

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Swartzberg says the regular flu kills tens of thousands of people every year. It presents itself with fever, cough and runny nose.

”The coronavirus–COVID-19–also has high fever, cough, sometimes, usually the cough is dry, you don’t usually bring up anything. Body aches all over. You may have some upper respiratory symptoms, too, such as a sore throat,” he said, noting that it’s quite difficult to distinguish between the two viruses.

Swartzberg says the coronavirus is more contagious. He explains that we are just now learning about this new virus and while the regular flu is killing young and old, he says COVID-19 is different

“With corona, it seems to spare the very young. Children just either aren’t getting it or they are just carrying it and not getting sick. But, the very old is where there’s a real risk,” he said.

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People on the street have mixed reactions to the novel virus.

“The problem is you can’t recognize it or you can’t find it out before the symptoms,” said Tooraja Amani, who works in Pleasant Hill.

Christine Will is being cautious. “The flu virus has already hurt more people. but the coronavirus has the possibility of spreading to more people,” she said.

Peri Chen wears a mask because it makes her feel better in public. But she said she’s not too concerned about catching the flu. “Right now in the East Bay, it’s not too bad yet, but we need to apply more common sense.”

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Dr. Swartzberg reminds everyone: “We’re still in the flu season. We’re still in the cold season so, most people with respiratory tract infections, by far, have either the common cold or influenza.”