The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing for coronavirus to “become a community virus,” and it’s trying to prepare as best it can for widespread infection across the United States.
“Right now we’re in an aggressive containment mode,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. “This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission.”
There have been 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. so far – including one in Wisconsin – but currently, there’s no cure.
Redfield says his agency is working on a containment strategy to buy more time to develop vaccines and antiviral drugs to help save people. Part of that strategy is quarantining people who have confirmed cases and restricting travel between affected areas.
However, the World Health Organization is arguing against travel restrictions.
“We reiterate our call to all countries not to impose restrictions that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. Such restrictions can have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Ahanom Ghebreyesus.
Redfield disagrees. “I would rather be criticized for over-protecting America than under-protecting America at this stage,” he said.
But the fact remains that people can transmit coronavirus even before they know they’re infected. In that way, it’s a lot like other viruses; it can be spread by someone who’s not yet experiencing any symptoms at all. In fact, Redfield says that the cases popping up in the U.S. only presented with a small sore throat – symptoms that could be mistaken for a whole host of other viruses, including the flu.
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