PHOENIX — An eighth case of the novel coronavirus is now confirmed in the United States.

However, the viral outbreak that began in China is now infecting almost 12,000 people worldwide, including one person in Tempe.

We've heard words like "deadly", "outbreak" and "public health emergency" connected to the novel coronavirus. But what's the truth and how big of a concern is the coronavirus really?

"There's a lot of things we don't know yet, and I think that's what's caused a lot of the anxiety," Dr. Kevin Stephan, an infectious disease specialist with eInfectionMD, said.

Stephan is helping us separate fact from myth.

1. Do the masks work?

We've seen ASU students wearing masks all over the Tempe campus after a case of coronavirus was confirmed in the community. But do they do any good?

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"First of all the masks aren't that protective for respiratory viruses," Stephan said. "Really what they're designed for is to prevent the transmission from the person wearing them to someone else. So if you're wearing one thinking you're protecting yourself you're really not doing much good."

2. Is widespread transmission person to person an issue in the U.S.?

Eight coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S. most recently in Massachusetts. Only one case in the country has spread from one person to someone else. So is widespread transmission an issue? The simple answer is no.

"We're not seeing other cases throughout communities of patient to patient spread," Stephan said.

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3. What's of more concern: The novel coronavirus or the flu?

The CDC is reporting widespread flu activity in almost every state. So what's of more concern: The coronavirus or the flu? Stephan says definitely the flu.

"We're up to about 19 million cases of influenza versus eight cases of  coronavirus and you know about 10,000 deaths from the influenza versus none in the United States," Stephan said.

Stephan adds too the best information right now shows coronavirus is no more contagious then the flu. So he recommends taking the usual precautions you would take to avoid all respiratory diseases.

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