CDC: Coronavirus still poses ‘low’ risk to general US population
The novel coronavirus at the center of an ongoing outbreak in China continues to pose a “low” risk to the general United States population, according to the CDC.
“Risk depends on exposure,” Nancy Messonnier, MD, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a telebriefing today. “Right now, we have a handful of cases in the U.S., and right now, it is not spreading in the community and we believe the risk to the general American public is low.”
“Every day we learn more, and every day we assess,” she added.
According to the CDC, there are five confirmed cases in the United States — one each in Washington state, Chicago and Arizona and two in California. Officials are not releasing additional information on these cases currently but said the patients and their contacts are under surveillance. Messonnier said there are 110 patients currently under investigation in 26 U.S. states. Thirty-two people have tested negative for the virus — most of them close contacts of confirmed cases or people who traveled to Wuhan, China, and reported respiratory symptoms.
Messonnier noted that CDC has developed a real-time RT-PCR test that can identify the coronavirus from samples and specimens. Officials are currently refining the use of the test and are working on a plan to ensure access to it. She added that the CDC has a long-term plan to share the test with domestic and international partners soon.
According to officials in China, there have been 2,744 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including 80 deaths. Officials reported there more than 30,453 people currently under medical observation.
Many precautions have been put in place to prevent further transmission, including the halting of all local and long-distance public transport in Wuhan and airport screenings in Britain and the U.S. According to the CDC, more than 2,400 people on more than 200 flights have been screened at five U.S. airports, although no cases have been identified through those efforts. CDC officials said that in addition to identifying potential cases, these screenings are educating travelers on what symptoms to look for.
The CDC has recommended that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China — its most severe travel warning.
Disclosure: Messonnier reports no relevant financial disclosures.