Top Infectious Disease News of the Week—March 1, 2020

Stay up-to-date on the latest infectious disease news by checking out our top 5 articles of the week.

#5: How is the US Tracking Coronavirus Contacts?

As the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prepares for more cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) linked to community spread, active monitoring of individuals exposed to patients with confirmed COVID-19 will be essential to mitigating the impact of the virus

A new CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report article contains details on public health efforts that are being employed to track contacts of people with COVID-19. Monitoring efforts are aimed at ensuring the rapid diagnosis and care of patients, limiting further spread of the viruses, and improving clinical understanding of risk factors for transmission.

The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was diagnosed on January 20th, in Washington State.

Read the full article.

#4: COVID-19 Highlights Weaknesses in US Emergency Preparedness: Public Health Watch

We passed an unfortunate milestone earlier this week with the 100th confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States.

However, as tragic as this global outbreak is, both in terms of its scope as well as its impact on human lives, there’s a good chance this crisis—if we can even call it that here, anyway—isn’t going to be the “big one” experts have predicted and feared for decades, but particularly loudly since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

It’s been since that time that greater attention has—finally—been paid to this country’s level of preparedness for significant health threats in which thousands or even hundreds of thousands of lives are affected, as opposed to dozens. This is not to diminish COVID-19, particularly for those who have been directly affected by it, but rather to point out that, when it comes to this disease, we’re not “there”—at least not yet.

Read the full article.

#3: Study Evaluates African Countries at Risk of COVID-19 Importations

COVID-19 preparations are underway in many countries in Africa, where the risk is being monitored in light of the close commercial ties with China, where the virus originated.

An international team of investigators recently published a modeling study in The Lancet examining the preparedness and vulnerability of African countries against COVID-19 importations.

“I believe that the biggest takeaway from the research is that the African countries with the highest risk of importing COVID-19 are also the ones more prepared to deal with cases,” Chiara Poletto, researcher at Pierre Louis Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health, INSERM, Paris, told Contagion®. “However, some countries are at medium risk of importation and present low level of preparedness and high vulnerability. Resources should be prioritized toward these countries. Onward transmission potentially occurring in countries with weaker health systems is a major public health concern.”

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#2: CDC Prepares For Local US Coronavirus Transmission

Fears over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have escalated in the past week, stoked by media but also troubling events such as the first reported deaths in the United States and serious efforts by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prepare Americans for local community transmission of the virus.

The CDC’s February 25th summary of the ongoing situation took a more concerned tone than in the past, but emphasized that preparations for widespread local transmission are for a hypothetical future, rather than risk to Americans being high at present. There has only been limited local transmission thus far, though it should be noted at least 1 of the patients who died in Washington state had no travel history to Wuhan or known coronavirus contacts.

The CDC’s summary stated that the outbreak currently met 2 of 3 criteria of a pandemic.

Read the full article.

#1: US Coronavirus Deaths Rise as COVID-19 Continues Spread

On March 1, the Washington State Department of Health confirmed a second US fatality linked to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Like the first COVID-19 death reported, the patient died in King County, Washington. On March 2, the total confirmed number of COVID-19 related in Washington rose to 5.

The first patient, confirmed on February 29, was in his 50s. The second case, a patient in his 70s, was confirmed on March 1.

The second patient was a resident at a long term care facility in Kirkland, Washington. At least 6 cases have been linked to Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, and more residents are being tested.

Read the full article.