by WorldTribune Staff, February 24, 2020
U.S. health officials are preparing for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) to become a pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday.
“We’re not seeing community spread here in the United States, yet, but it’s very possible, even likely, that it may eventually happen,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters on a conference call. “Our goal continues to be slowing the introduction of the virus into the U.S. This buys us more time to prepare communities for more cases and possibly sustained spread.”
Messonnier said the CDC is working with state and local health departments “to ready our public health workforce to respond to local cases and the possibility this outbreak could become a pandemic,” adding that the CDC is collaborating with supply chain partners, hospitals, pharmacies and manufacturers to understand what medical supplies are needed.
“This will help CDC understand when we may need to take more aggressive measures to ensure that health-care workers on the front lines have access to the supplies that they need,” Messonnier said. “We are reviewing all of our pandemic materials and adapting them to COVID-19.”
Messonnier said the “day may come” when the U.S. may need to implement such measures as closing schools and businesses.
The CDC said Monday that the number of coronavirus cases in the United States rose from 34 on Friday to 53. That included several passengers who returned from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan who had tested positive for the virus.
Of the 329 Americans brought back from Japan, Messonnier said 18 of them tested positive for COVID-19. She said it’s possible that some of those patients did not test positive before boarding the evacuation flights in Japan but that they were “already incubating the disease.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) said during its Monday morning press briefing that the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak isn’t yet a true “pandemic” because the world hasn’t seen “large-scale deaths.”
WHO’s comments came as an Iranian lawmaker blew the whistle on some 50 deaths in Iran.
China is encouraging its citizens to return work amid a propaganda push by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) which insists that only obedience to the CCP will cure the virus.
Blogger Jennifer Zeng tweeted: “This #CCP cop tells you, if #CoronavirusOutbreak happens in any other country, apart from praying to heaven, they really can’t do anything else. But in #China, as long as you listen to the party, the #virus will be conquered very soon.”
Zerohedge noted: “That’s right: On the same morning that the Chinese government is marching people back to work, warning them that if they get infected, they’re on their own, as if the entire country was one giant concentration camp, the WHO — which has repeatedly run interference for the regime — is insisting that the outbreak isn’t really that bad.”
Summary of Monday’s coronavirus news:
• Six people are now confirmed to have died from coronavirus in Italy, which has had the worst outbreak in Europe with 219 confirmed cases. The Italian government has introduced stringent internal travel restrictions, closing off the worst-hit areas in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto.
• Several European countries including Croatia, Hungary, Ireland and Serbia have advised their citizens against travelling to the affected areas in Italy. Austria is considering reintroducing border controls with Italy.
• Iran has denied trying to cover up the full extent of the outbreak after a reformist website reported 50 deaths from the virus. The deputy health minister said 12 people had died from the virus. Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Iraq reported their first cases – all involving people who had come from Iran.
• South Korean cases spiked to over 760, as several countries imposed travel bans, and some airlines cancelled routes to Seoul.
• China reported 150 new deaths from the virus, with one outside Hubei province. Critics say official estimates by the Chinese authorities are not credible. Infections rose by 409 (398 in Hubei) to 77,150. Four Chinese provinces lowered their alert levels on the virus, including Yunnan, Guangdong, Shanxi and Guizhou. The WHO said it was encouraged by the decline in new cases in China.