Covid-19 is now in more than 50 countries


Let's first turn our attention to the coronavirus and efforts to contain it cobit nineteen the novel coronavirus disease has now spread to more than fifty countries and for the first time there are now more new cases outside of China where it originated then inside the country on Wednesday president trump held a news conference about the government's response to the illness flanked by health officials he appointed vice president Mike pence to direct efforts to contain its spread while seeming to downplay the risk to Americans not San Francisco meanwhile is on high alert although there have been no cases in the city mayor London breed declared a state of emergency to mobilize resources and prepare for possible outbreaks and there now appears to be a second person in the United States who contracted the virus through unknown origins both of those patients are from the bay area Solano and Santa Clara counties joining me now is Dr Charles Chu an infectious disease expert and professor at UC San Francisco doctor to thank you for being with us and it's a very busy time for you Dr sure there's a lot of fear in the community right now how much concern should people have what level is appropriate I think we should be worried we we definitely should be concerned because we are starting to see some cases of of the virus circulating in the community and by that I mean cases of infection where we don't know where it came from we don't know how this one individual ones from Solano county became infected and we also do not know how the second case in in Santa Clara county became infected as well so I think we should be worried we should be but at the same time we should also be quite vigilant and really be able to keep in touch with the with the guidance from our public health agencies and manage medical authorities which is to make sure you wash your hands to make sure you don't touch your face after that what else would you recommend for the recognition would not be too old to wear masks for instance not at this time yet we still do not see definitive evidence that we have community transmission we have lots and lots of cases that are being that that that are circulating in the community but the other thing would be to get your influenza vaccination because it's still the fact that influence is far more common than than getting an infection from this virus and so if you get your influenza vaccine vaccination that's just to protect you from that it's not going to help you with this new virus that yes yeah the influx of the influenza vaccine doesn't protect you against this virus but it does protect you against influenza and influenza this year has already been responsible for thousands of deaths so it it's it's just to put things into proportion your risk of actually getting influenza is still far greater than your risk of getting infected with this fires on their website the centers for disease control says quote the potential public health threat posed by code nineteen the formal name for this virus is very high both globally and to the United States where do you think we are in the trajectory of this virus how do you expect it to evolve well well right now we're actually seeing more cases of the infection from the virus outside of China it used to be that the vast majority of cases were in China but I I think as of yesterday there was a turning point in that we're now seeing evidence of transmission say of the virus in other countries say in South Korea and Japan in Italy and Iran so far it appears that at least the United States we still have very few cases under fifty I believe and out of which nearly all of the cases we're able to track meaning that they're either returning travelers from China that were able to follow do contact tracing on as well as potential individuals who come back because are quarantined these two cases though are the first cases of community acquired transmission where we did not we did not know where they got infected from and do you expect to see more of those will this become a seasonal virus I expect I I believe that that's certainly a possibility one thing that might happen and that may be due due to the characteristics of this virus that roughly about the the majority of people roughly about eighty to eighty five percent of people infected they have mild symptoms that have no symptoms at all it's only the small fraction of say ten to fifteen percent of of of individuals affected who develop more severe disease which is pneumonia so I I do feel that there may be there is certainly the possibility and the CDC has warned of this there's certainly the possibility that we may see ongoing community transmission and more more cases of this virus in the community let's turn now to talking about testing and then therapies so first on the testing yesterday governor Gavin Newsom held a press conference is that the state had only received a few hundred test kits from the CDC and that we needed more can you tell us about the testing protocol and how many more kids do we need well we we we probably will end up needing hundreds to thousands of cats and the reason is that we we need to we desperately need kits that can be done locally one big problem which has been increasing in eight states at all testing had to be sent to a centralized laboratory the CDC and as a result you would have to wait to ask our doctors would have to wait days in some cases longer than you know twenty four forty eight hours two to three days before you get a result back so what's really needed are diagnostic tests that could be done but locally by either the county public health laboratory or by the hospital and I think that the CDC is making efforts on moving that to expect testing to be local and this is part of your work you were on with us short time ago to talk about creating a rapid diagnostic tool yes how is that going so that's going well we we've developed as a point of care diagnostic where input so we can actually diagnosis infection get a nasal swab get some mucus from patient and be able to diagnose an infection within thirty minutes so structurally this this test works the the main challenges right now or is finding a commercial partner where we could that potentially put this test get FDA approval for this test and be able to deploy it so that could be used to to help doctors make diagnoses and if that happens how long would it be until we could see it in action well it's it's my hope that we really need to because of the public health urgency of this thread that we really need to have better diagnostic test so it's not just my efforts but really kind of the efforts as a scientific community as a clinical community we need to have tests that could be deployed within a matter of weeks to months and I think that's the time frame that we're talking about here Dr Charles Chu thank you so much for being with

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