Coronavirus update: CDC warns of possible bigger outbreak of COVID-19 in US amid fears of community spread

Health officials ask schools and business establishments to prepare plans for closure

As the coronavirus death toll crossed 2,700 and 80,000 confirmed cases were reported in 34 countries impacted by the outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned at the imminent bigger spread of COVID-19 at the community level in the United States.

According to the World Health Organization's recent update, there are 80 confirmed cases and at least 2,700 deaths in 34 countries so far. The number of COVID-19 deaths in South Korea has gone up to 10, while confirmed cases are close to 1,000. US authorities have issued a Level 4 warning for those travelling to China, but it recently raised the travel warning to Level 2 for Japan and South Korea.

People outside a supermarket in SouthKorea
People wait outside a supermarket in South Korea to buy face masks following the coronavirus outbreak in the country. BBC News/Screenshot

CDC warns of severe disruptions to daily life in wake of COVID-19 spread

Currently, 14 positive cases of those who have either travelled to China or been in close contact with the affected ones have been confirmed on US soil. However, the CDC fears that the number could go up once coronavirus starts spreading outside China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy through communities.

Stating that the sole purpose of talking about the looming coronavirus spread is to prepare Americans, CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Director Nancy Messonnier said: "As we've seen from recent countries with community spread, when it has hit those countries, it has moved quite rapidly. We want to make sure the American public is prepared. As more and more countries experience community spread, successful containment at our borders becomes harder and harder."

The CDC's warning comes despite assurances from the Trump administration about the coronavirus situation being under control. In order to combat the fatal virus, in case it spreads, the White House has asked for $1.25 billion as emergency funds.

Schools and businesses told to start preparing for possible larger outbreak

Urging American families and business establishments to gear up for the looming threat of a bigger outbreak of the virus, the CDC said schools should prepare plans for closure in case of an outbreak.

"Disruption to everyday life might be severe. While I didn't think they were at risk right now, we as a family ought to be preparing for significant disruption to our lives. You should ask your children's schools about their plans for school dismissals or school closures. Ask about plans for teleschool. I contacted my local school superintendent this morning with exactly those questions," said Messonnier.

"Businesses should consider whether they can offer telecommuting options to their employees, while hospitals might need to look into expanding telehealth services," she added.

CDC's Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat said the public need to start working to prevent the spread of the virus through communities. "Our efforts at containment so far have worked. We don't want to delay thinking about these other possibilities."

Related topics : Coronavirus