Americans Should Prepare For The Spread Of Coronavirus, Says CDC

Americans Should Prepare For The Spread Of Coronavirus, Says CDC

The head of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Nancy Messonnier explained that it's no longer a question of if the virus will spread but rather when it would happen.

Image Source: Getty Images/ArtistGNDphotography (Representative)

On Tuesday, prime U.S. public health officials urged that the country's citizens prepare themselves for the spread of the coronavirus in communities across the nation. During a media briefing, the head of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, said, "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."

Image Source: Getty Images (Representative)

Until now, measures that have been taken to contain the disease in the U.S. involved restricting travel to and from China, the epicenter of the outbreak, and isolating people who have been tested positive. However, Messonnier noted that there has been evidence of the virus spreading to countries outside the affected region, like Italy and Iran, hence raising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "level of concern and expectation that we'll see spread" in the States. The virus which is spreading rapidly has infected 322 people in Italy as of Wednesday, reports CNN. In Iran, nearly 100 cases have been reported among which 15 of them have died. 


Speaking to CNBC, Hasnain Malik, a Dubai-based managing director for frontier markets equity strategy at Tellimer, said, "Iran is perhaps the first example of a high incidence of COVID-19 in a country with relatively weak public health infrastructure. It is inevitable that we will see more examples across Asia and, perhaps, Africa." According to NBC News, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, explained, "When you start to see sustained transmission in other countries throughout the world, it's inevitable that it will come to the United States." In the U.S. alone 57 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 caused by the new strain of coronavirus. 


Although most of the infected individuals are among the ones who were passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the rate at which the virus is spreading throughout the world has concerned officials. According to NBC News, the CDC has warned U.S. residents of the disruption the virus could cause in their day-to-day routine if it begins spreading in the country. They said Americans should prepare themselves for drastic changes like the closing of schools, working from home and delayed elective medical procedures. 


"We should all be dusting off our pandemic preparedness plans and rehearse them very quickly," warned an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Dr. William Schaffner. "The core concept is social distancing." Schaffner continued that business heads should begin considering which employees could work from home. Based on  Schaffner and other experts' predictions a time will come when religious practices and ceremonies have to be observed at home instead of attending it under one room filled with people. Furthermore, they said that families need to start preparing themselves for a life in which they have to survive inside their homes without traveling even short distances for supplies of food, medicine, or entertainment. 


Strains of coronavirus tend to spread from person to person when they sneeze or cough. So, maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet has been considered to minimize the risk of exposure to it. "The immediate risk to the general American public remains low. But, as we have warned, that has the potential to change quickly," said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during a news conference. "The fact that we have been able to keep cases to this low level is an accomplishment, especially given that we are, unfortunately, beginning to see community spread in a growing number of other countries," he added. 


China has been implementing aggressive measures to stop the deadly virus from spreading and they seem to be working. Dr. Bruce Aylward, the leader of a World Health Organization team of scientists investigating the crisis in China, revealed that the decline rate of new cases in that country indicates that the illness can be contained. However, if other countries want to control it from spreading, they need to take proper precautions. "There needs to be a real shift in mindset," said Aylward, adding, "This virus will show up. Think the virus is going to show up tomorrow."

Hoping to combat this novel coronavirus by preparing hospitals focused on treating and containing infected patients, the Trump administration had asked Congress for $2.5 billion this week. A portion of this amount will go in expanding the search for people who might be infected and the rest will be used to fund testings for the virus, something that CDC is already doing. 

Recommended for you