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United States President Donald Trump has named Vice President Mike Pence as head of government response in handling the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the infection caused by the Wuhan coronavirus (nCoV), outbreak in the country.
The announcement was made after confirmed coronavirus cases in the US soared to 60 on February 26.
“We’re very, very ready for this.” Researchers have been “rapidly developing” a vaccine, Trump said. “Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low.” However, he also warned that “every aspect of our society should be prepared.”
This comes amid accusations of the White House not making a concerted effort in combating the spread of the virus. Experts also expect that the number may rise.
On February 25, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Nancy Messonnier, warned of possible “severe” disruptions to everyday life.
Messonnier added that the American public must be prepared to face rapid transmission of the disease in the country. Businesses would also need to prepare to offer telecommuting options for employees.
“Trying to contain a disease which spreads like influenza, in this case COVID-19, is almost impossible. We are talking about rapid-fire and sustained transmission,” said Melissa Nolan, a medical doctor and professor of epidemiology at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health.
Plans are reportedly in place to handle the outbreak in the coming days. These might include the closing of schools and businesses should the coronavirus become widespread in the US.
Latest on infected Americans
The latest confirmed case in the US is from a Californian with no known exposure to the virus. He reportedly has no travel history nor any known contact with an infected person. The CDC is looking into the source of the infection as this is the first time such a case has been recorded in the US.
It has emerged that 40 of the 60 confirmed coronavirus cases in the US originate from the Diamond Princess cruise ship evacuees. Other cases are from students returning from the virus epicenter in Wuhan, China.
As of February 26, the global toll for the coronavirus stood at 2,804 deaths, with 82,184 infected. Reportedly, 32,901 people have recovered from the coronavirus since the beginning of its outbreak in December 2019.