The total number of coronavirus cases in the US have hit 57 this week, with President Donald Trump insisted his country is “doing a great job” of handling the expanding epidemic. Protective measures currently available in the US have faced criticism and health policy analyst Laurie Garrett warned Washington is “not prepared at all” to handle coronavirus hours after the Center for Disease Control (CDC) conceded the outbreak could grow into a pandemic. Speaking to MSNBC, Ms Garrett said: “We’re not prepared at all.
“I think there’s an inability to really grasp the seemingly unimaginable, how bad this will be, what will it feel like in America if we get a China-scale experience with this virus.”
Ms Garrett, a science reporter specialised in epidemics, noted the coronavirus (COVID-19) bears a close mortality rate to the Spanish Flu which killed an estimated 40-50 million people in 1918.
She claimed reports from China, the epicentre of the outbreak, showed the death-rate among people infected had jumped to nearly 6 percent in some cities as she warned US companies to roll out emergency plans to have workers work from home to avoid keeping too many people in confined spaces.
Ms Garrett continued: “We’ve had two, truly horrible pandemics in modern time – one is HIV and the other was the 1918 flu pandemic. HIV killed 100 percent, if you didn’t have treatment and you were unfortunate enough to be infected in the 1980s-1990s, it was a totally lethal environment.
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“Flu, in contrast, in 1918 had the exact same lethality rate as what we’re looking at. In fact, it was lower, probably 1.9 percent lethal. Some of the cities in China report the mortality rate is as high as 6 percent.
“It’s long overdue, we should have been ready already and we’re not. Every single company that has more than a handful of employees should have an epidemic plan in place.”
She added: “Have your employees work remotely and not come in, not congregate, not infect others in the workplace.
“Every school, every university should be looking at how to have more and more of the coursework be handled remotely.”
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Dr Nancy Messonnier from the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases confirmed the organisation is expecting to see “community spread” in the US.
Dr 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.
“We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare in the expectation that this could be bad.”
The CDC chief added that the “data over the last week, and the spread in other countries, has certainly raised our level of concern and raised our level of expectation” of coronavirus spreading across the US.
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During a two-day visit to India earlier this week, President Trump dismissed COVID-19 as a “problem that’s going to go away” despite warnings from the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggesting the outbreak could soon turn into a pandemic.
A British Government document has warned coronavirus could kill half a million people and infect 80 percent of the British public.
Vulnerable Britons, including the elderly and people with pre-existing illnesses, would be most at-risk and the NHS would be put under immense pressure if the virus sweeps the UK.
The planning memo warns that four in five Britons – or more than 50million – could be infected by the flu-like virus.
The document, titled ‘Covid-19 Reasonable Worst Case Scenario’, added that a vaccine is “unlikely to be available for many months”.
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