Containing the novel coronavirus — Is COVID-19 here to stay?

COVID-19 might stick around for a while, according to the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Robert Redfield told CNN recently that COVID-19 could work its way into the mix of diseases that Americans have to deal with.

“This virus is probably with us beyond this season, or beyond this year,” he said.

“And I think eventually, the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission and you can start to think of it in the sense like seasonal flu.”

Not everyone agrees, though. It’s too soon to say for sure whether that will happen, said Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of the division of infectious diseases at Queen’s University.

“One possibility is that we will control it, kind of like we did with SARS,” he said.

“If it peters out and disappears and there’s no ongoing transmission afterwards, it will just kind of disappear off the radar like SARS did, because it was sort of a chance, random event.”

Right now, it’s looking like China might still be able to contain the virus, said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, but that could definitely still change.

“It does appear that these massive public health initiatives have slowed down the spread of this infection,” he said. “But the big question is, will it be enough to actually halt this infection and prevent further spread throughout the world?”

If containment doesn’t work, Evans said, then the virus would become much more common worldwide. “Certainly the scenario of it emerging as yet another respiratory virus that will circulate around during the winter is certainly a plausible one.”

It’s hard to say at this point how damaging that would be.

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