Saturday, February 15, 2020

Former FDA commissioners expects US COVID-19 cases to soar in 2-4 weeks

The concerns of how the COVID-19 virus may trap people even in the US and other western countries who have not been to China but are secondary or tertiary contacts of someone who was there and returned before the travel shutdowns, may be increasing.
The Wall Street Journal has an op-ed by Scott Gottlieb Feb 4 “Stop a coronavirus outbreak before it starts”. 
The Washington Examiner (a conservative free paper) published an article by Anna Giaritelli Feb. 12 where former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told the Senate that community outbreaks are inevitable in the next two to four weeks, and contact tracing could identity hundreds to thousands more largely mild or asymptomatic cases, posing public health dilemmas.  Testing will become faster, starting first in five cities.  However Gottlieb has also said there would be limits on just who would be tested.
Persons taking domestic flights probably expect to be asked if they have been to China or SE Asia recently or are in contact with someone who was. But’s possible to imagine situations that could lead to unexpected detentions, like temperature testing, oversensitivity to normal coughing or sneezing when confined in a plane.   These could be imagined in other venues too.  This is already being talked about in the UK.
If airlines or other accommodations are required to take on these policies, the public needs to be told immediately.  Some people simply cannot afford to be trapped.
As I’ve noted, this could affect primaries in the election season, and various kinds of congregation for volunteer activity.
What seems missing also is, what percent of the cases really will be mild and not normally lead to medical attention?
There was one incident where a passenger became ill when flying from San Francisco to England (NBCBayarea). 
The other passengers were held for 25 minutes.  Persons seated near the passenger will be notified it the passenger tests positive, but it is not clear if those persons have to be followed.

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