CDC: Americans Should Prepare for Spread of Coronavirus
A top health official said Tuesday that it isn’t a matter of if the coronavirus will continue to spread but when and how severely.
Federal health authorities warned Tuesday that Americans should prepare for the spread of the coronavirus as more countries continue to report an uptick in confirmed cases.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, called on U.S. businesses, schools, healthcare facilities and communities to plan for a potential pandemic, reports MSN.
“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” Messonnier said during a media briefing Tuesday. “We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare in the expectation that this could be bad.”
Messonier said the agency needs people to understand their lives might be disrupted — schools might need to be closed, employees might need to work from home, hospitals might need to delay elective medical procedures, and religious organizations might need to consider having worshippers observe religious practices and ceremonies at home.
“We should all be dusting off our pandemic preparedness plans and rehearse them very quickly,” urged Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University. “The core concept is social distancing.”
So far, measures taken to contain the virus have included restricting travel to and from China — where the outbreak started — and isolating identified cases. The number of cases in the U.S. has risen to 57 with no reported deaths, according to the agency.
As of Feb. 25, more than 300 cases and 10 deaths have been reported in Italy — including a 45% single-day increase — and nearly 100 cases have been reported in Iran. Wednesday morning, NY Times reported South Korea has seen the largest outbreak outside China with nearly 1,000 cases and 10 confirmed deaths. France also reported the first death of a citizen from the virus and three new cases were confirmed.
Overall, more than 80,000 people have been infected worldwide and nearly 3,000 have died.
“When you start to see sustained transmission in other countries throughout the world, it’s inevitable that it will come to the United States,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC News.
In China, officials have been taking aggressive measures to stop the spreading and it appears to be working. Dr. Bruce Aylward, the leader of a World Health Organization (WHO) team of scientists, said the declining rate of new cases in China shows that the virus can be contained.