Jay Butler, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports on the coronavirus on February 13 in Washington. - John Amis / AP / SIPA

"The question is no longer really whether it will happen, but rather when it will happen, and how many people in this country will become seriously ill. After minimizing the risks, US health officials said Tuesday they expect the new coronavirus epidemic to spread to the United States, encouraging schools, businesses and local governments to consider precautionary measures like the cancellation of public events.

Now is the time for US businesses, hospitals, and communities to begin preparing for the possible spread of # COVID19. CDC continues to work with business, education & healthcare sectors, encouraging employers to be prepared. Learn more: https://t.co/OUYvMhdIaS.

- CDC (@CDCgov) February 25, 2020

"Ultimately, we expect to see a spread (of the epidemic) in this country," said Nancy Messonnier, a manager of the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Internet teaching when schools are closed?

These public statements, more alarmist than the preceding ones, come at a time when the fear of a “pandemic”, namely an epidemic of international scale, is intensifying. The disease now affects several countries outside of China, including Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. The Covid-19 epidemic has already infected more than 80,000 people worldwide, of which nearly 2,600 have died, mainly in China, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Since there is no vaccine or drug against the new coronavirus, non-pharmaceutical precautionary measures "will be the most important tools in our response to this virus," added Nancy Messonnier. These measures should be decided on a case-by-case basis depending on the severity of the epidemic in each locality. "For schools, one of the options could be to separate schoolchildren into smaller groups or, in the event of a severe pandemic, to close schools and set up online courses," said the CDC official.

First tests of an antiviral

"For adults, companies can replace face-to-face interviews with video and teleconferencing and offer more options for telecommuting (to their employees)," she continued, adding that on a larger scale, cities may be forced to cancel crowded public events. For their part, hospitals could decide to delay certain medical procedures and increase consultations by telephone.

Meanwhile, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it began its first randomized clinical trial on Tuesday to investigate the safety and efficacy of the antiviral remdesivir against Covid-19.

The first participant in this clinical trial is an American, repatriated after being in quarantine on the liner Diamond Princess in Japan. Those responsible for the trial assured that it would be suitable to include participants from other locations in the United States and other countries. It could include up to 400 people and would include research on other treatments.


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