By AFP Staff
As the novel coronavirus, also known as covid-19, continues to spread around the world, U.S. health officials are warning Americans that the virus will strike the United States and to be prepared for disruptions.
So far covid-19 has spread to more than 31 countries, with Asian countries being hit the hardest. Some 80,000 people have been infected and 2,700 have died from it. Elites in those countries have not been able to avoid it, either, with the deputy minister of health in Iran announcing he has been infected.
BREAKING: Iran's deputy health minister tests positive for coronavirus; he had previously looked unwell during a press conference pic.twitter.com/at0DHN0m3a
— BNO Newsroom (@BNODesk) February 25, 2020
Europe is now beginning to see a rise in patients testing positive for the disease with the latest being in Croatia and Switzerland. Italy has reported more than 322 patients testing positive for the virus with 10 dead—all of whom were elderly. One Italian has reportedly recovered.
Covid-19 does not seem to be particularly deadly—no more so than the flu anyway. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been as many as 40,000 deaths from all strains of the flu in the 2019-2020 flu season.
Vietnamese health authorities say 12 infected patients in that country have recovered, and they have not had any new cases in two weeks.
The UK announced it has treated and released eight patients, who had been confirmed as having covid-19.
In South Korea, seven of the 11 patients who died from covid-19 were all located in one mental institution at Qingdao University.
There are concerns that the United States is not doing all it can to prepare for the spread of covid-19. According to Reuters, only five U.S. states—California, Illinois, Nebraska, Nevada, and Tennessee—have the capability to test for the virus. U.S. state and local labs are asking the FDA for permission to create their own tests, so that may change in the coming days.
The CDC reports that there have been 14 cases confirmed in the United States, “in addition to 39 cases among repatriated persons from high-risk settings, for a current total of 53 cases.”
In a conference call with the press, Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the FDA said to reporters that she told her children this morning, “While I didn’t think they were at risk right now, we as a family ought to be preparing for significant disruption to our lives.”
Officials with the CDC announced “We’re asking folks in every sector, as well as people within their families, to start planning for this, because as we’ve seen from the recent countries that have had community spread, when it hit in those countries, it has moved quite rapidly.”
They further outlined what closing schools and businesses would be like in the U.S. and made suggestions for screening children and workers.
Despite what some unscrupulous actors are saying on the Internet in order to profit off this illness, there is still plenty of time to prepare for the possibility of an outbreak in the U.S. Health experts contend that, unless you work in healthcare and are caring for infected patients, even lightweight face masks will help prevent the spread of the virus. Also, be sure to wash your hands the correct way using soap and water.
It would not hurt to stock up on some basic foods in the event that grocery stores close, but that is good advice to follow regardless of whether a pandemic is imminent.
AFP will continue to report on the spread of the coronavirus. If the situation changes, we will be sure to let readers know.
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