EU and UK Warn of Widespread Coronavirus Outbreak

Posted on March 2, 2020

The European Union and the UK are warning of the likelihood of widepsread transmission of the deadly novel coronavirus (Covid-19). The warning comes as Italy has nearly 1,700 cases, including 34 deaths and 140 serious cases.

The BBC News reports that the UK is warning that widespread transmission in the country is "highly likely." Meanwhile, the EU has raised its risk level from moderate to "high.

Paul Anthony Cosford CB is the Director for Health Protection and Medical Director for Public Health England told BBC Breakfast, "I wouldn't say anything is inevitable but it is now highly likely." Boris Johnson has echoed the concern. He is quoted by ITV as saying, "This is a problem that I think is likely to become more significant for this country in the next days and weeks and therefore we have been making every possible preparation for that."

The U.S. has not yet directly warned widespread transmission is likely although there is community spread in parts of the northwest U.S.. President Trump has downplayed the potential for an outbreak at times saying it has been contained and will disappear. However, some health officials have warned of major life disruptions and many experts on Trump's coronavirus task force have warned of additional cases in the days ahead.

It will be difficult to contain the virus even with aggressive containment measures such as closing schools, closing sports events and having people work from home. These containment methods are more about slowing down the spread of the virus so hospitals and health services are not completely overwhelmed by the most severe cases. Even with aggressive containment methods it looks likely that nations will need to find additional buildings to attend to coronavirus patients due to the high number of severe cases (as high as 15% to 20%) expected with this virus. The fatality rate will climb higher in countries that are unable to care for all the severely ill.

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