PQC: This “Government measure” will sure boost the sale of “flu vaccine” and flu pills as people would desperately try not to be “quarantined”! But worse still, if your neighbors and your co-workers report your “flu symptoms”, whatever it is, to “authority” you are done! Are you ready! Meanwhile people in Syria have been under military assault from the Jew-Ish-A, Turkey, and Israel. The world is in crisis because Governments are causing crisis… But people are calling “Governments please save us from crisis!” What a world we live in!

Coronavirus: US will test people with flu symptoms, in expansion of government response

  • Testing will initially be carried out by labs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and New York, but more sites are planned, CDC says
Nancy Messonnier, director of the US Centre for Immunisation and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), said that the US would begin to test individuals with flu-like symptoms for the coronavirus. Photo: Reuters

Nancy Messonnier, director of the US Centre for Immunisation and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), said that the US would begin to test individuals with flu-like symptoms for the coronavirus. Photo: Reuters

US health authorities on Friday said they are ready to institute “mitigation” measures to minimise the harm caused by transmission of the novel coronavirus even as they significantly expanded efforts to contain the outbreak from becoming widespread in the country.

In a telephone briefing with reporters, Nancy Messonnier of the Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the US would begin to test individuals for the coronavirus if they have been identified by local health authorities as having flu-like symptoms.

The heightened measures – a major expansion of Washington’s effort to contain the outbreak – will see the CDC work with public health labs in Los Angeles and San Francisco in California; Seattle, Washington; Chicago, Illinois; and New York City. More sites are planned, she said.

Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s Centre for Immunisation and Respiratory Diseases, also addressed a rising debate among health officials and epidemiologists on whether to pivot from “containment” of the outbreak – through measures such as contact tracing and isolating those who come into contact with infected people – to mitigation strategies.

Those advocating for mitigation say that the latest data prove the virus has a high transmissibility that almost certainly dooms containment efforts. In a scenario where the virus reaches pandemic levels, a policy of mitigation would mean those with mild symptoms would be asked to seek outpatient medical treatment and rest at home.

Only those with acute symptoms would be hospitalised, while a policy of “social distancing” that would include school and workplace closures may also be instituted.

Messonnier stressed that the two strategies were not mutually exclusive. While the possibility of widespread transmission of the coronavirus in the US would trigger a “change in our response strategy”, Messonnier said, mitigation and containment measures could be employed at the same time.

Nancy Messonnier, director of the US Centre for Immunisation and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), said that the US would begin to test individuals with flu-like symptoms for the coronavirus. Photo: Reuters

US health authorities on Friday said they are ready to institute “mitigation” measures to minimise the harm caused by transmission of the novel coronavirus even as they significantly expanded efforts to contain the outbreak from becoming widespread in the country.

In a telephone briefing with reporters, Nancy Messonnier of the Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the US would begin to test individuals for the coronavirus if they have been identified by local health authorities as having flu-like symptoms.

The heightened measures – a major expansion of Washington’s effort to contain the outbreak – will see the CDC work with public health labs in Los Angeles and San Francisco in California; Seattle, Washington; Chicago, Illinois; and New York City. More sites are planned, she said.

Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s Centre for Immunisation and Respiratory Diseases, also addressed a rising debate among health officials and epidemiologists on whether to pivot from “containment” of the outbreak – through measures such as contact tracing and isolating those who come into contact with infected people – to mitigation strategies.

Those advocating for mitigation say that the latest data prove the virus has a high transmissibility that almost certainly dooms containment efforts. In a scenario where the virus reaches pandemic levels, a policy of mitigation would mean those with mild symptoms would be asked to seek outpatient medical treatment and rest at home.

Only those with acute symptoms would be hospitalised, while a policy of “social distancing” that would include school and workplace closures may also be instituted.SCMP Today: Intl Edition NewsletterGet updates direct to your inboxBy registering, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy

Messonnier stressed that the two strategies were not mutually exclusive. While the possibility of widespread transmission of the coronavirus in the US would trigger a “change in our response strategy”, Messonnier said, mitigation and containment measures could be employed at the same time. China sees first day with more than 100 coronavirus deaths reported as WHO urges ‘containment’

“There are times when those components merge together across the United States, potentially at different locations in the United States,” she said.

For now, she said, the CDC remained focused on keeping the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US – currently at 15 – as low as possible.

Messonnier said that mitigation would entail a reduction in the current practice in the US and elsewhere of tracing and isolating every person who comes into contact with infected people.

Instead, efforts to disrupt the virus would happen at the community level through “social distancing” measures that would include telecommuting, teleschooling and telemedicine.

Messonnier said that given the lack of other countermeasures – there is no antiviral or vaccine available for the virus yet – these “nonpharmaceutical” interventions were the methods available to authorities.

Such measures would “decrease the burden, the morbidity, mortality [and] do everything to help at the societal level,” she said.

To be sure, the US has shown no signs of a major coronavirus outbreak, but public health officials have repeatedly said they need to be prepared for community transmission in the US.

Moreover, several experts have advocated for governments to prepare to pivot to a mitigation strategy, including Tom Inglesby, the director of the Centre for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Hitoshi Oshitani, a professor of virology at Tohoku University in Japan.

In a commentary for Singapore’s state news agency CNA, Oshitani argued that there was an urgent need for countries to make the transition so that health care systems are not overwhelmed when there is a sudden surge in “transmission chains” – which may occur given the virus’s high transmissibility. The global search for a vaccine to prevent coronavirus infections

Officials in Singapore, among the areas worst hit by the virus outside China, have said a shift to mitigation was among the approaches they were considering but have approached that stance cautiously.

“We have to calibrate and judge as we go on each step, what is the most prudent thing to do. Err on the side of caution, but make a sensible judgment. And that’s what we’re trying,” Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday.

Globally there have been almost 1,400 deaths – all but three in China, where the virus is believed to have originated in Wuhan, Hubei province, and where nearly 64,000 people have fallen ill.

The US has enacted a temporary travel ban on foreign nationals who have recently visited China, and quarantine measures for its own citizens returning from Hubei province.

Bhavan Jaipragas

Bhavan Jaipragas

Bhavan is Asia Correspondent for the SCMP, covering breaking news, politics, diplomacy, trade and Southeast Asian macroeconomic trends. His work for the Post’s Asia desk also focuses on the region’s multifaceted interactions with the United States and China. A Singapore native, Bhavan previously worked for Agence France-Presse. Coronavirus outbreak Coronavirus outbreak: All stories | Disease | Health in China | Medicine | United States Read moreChinese medical staff paying ‘too high a price’ in coronavirus battleRead moreChina says it has been ‘open towards cooperation with US’ on coronavirusRead moreSingapore: nine new coronavirus cases, no plans to raise alert level to red