In a telebriefing yesterday, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that the United States should prepare for the possibility of the new coronavirus spreading within local communities. What steps are there to take?
As the coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, continues to spread around the globe, the CDC have issued a statement saying that U.S. federal agencies are actively preparing for the potential spread of the new coronavirus — SARS-CoV-2 — at local level.
In yesterday’s telebriefing session, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, also advised that the U.S. population should take stock of the preventive actions available in the case of a pandemic.
“The global novel coronavirus situation is rapidly evolving and expanding,” said Dr. Messonnier, referring to recent developments in Italy and elsewhere.
Currently, there are 53 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., according to the CDC’s own data. Of these, 12 relate to travel in China, two stem from person-to-person contact with an infected individual, and 39 are among repatriated U.S. citizens.
So far, there has been no transmission of the virus within communities at local level, and the CDC state that although “COVID-19 is a serious public health threat,” at this time, it is “not recognized to be spreading in U.S. communities.”
Yet, the fact that the viral infections have been spreading in European countries, and that the number of new cases reported outside China has now exceeded that of new cases emerging within China, has led U.S. authorities to express growing concern.
“Community spread is often a trigger to begin implementing new strategies tailored to local circumstances that blunt the impact of disease and can slow the spread of [the] virus,” stated Dr. Messonnier in yesterday’s telebriefing.
“The fact that this virus has caused illness — including illness resulting in death — and sustained person-to-person spread is concerning. These factors meet two of the criteria of a pandemic,” she went, emphasizing that:
“As community spread is detected in more and more countries, the world moves closer towards meeting the third [criterion]: worldwide spread of the new virus.”
Dr. Messonnier noted that, so far, the strategies adopted by U.S. agencies to prevent an outbreak within the country have been fruitful.
“The U.S. [have] been implementing an aggressive containment strategy that requires detecting, tracking, and isolating all cases, as much as possible, and preventing more introduction of disease, notably at points of entry [in the country],” she said.
“We’ve restricted travel into the [U.S.], while also issuing extensive travel advisories for countries currently experiencing community spread,” Dr. Messonnier explained.
“We’ve also enacted the first quarantine of this scale in the U.S. and are supporting the State Department [of Health & Human Services] in repatriating citizens from high risk areas. We are doing this with the goal of slowing the introduction of this new virus into the U.S., and buying us more time to prepare.”
Posted by Medical News Today