The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday that the coronavirus will likely stay for “beyond this season, or beyond this year,” as the disease has the potential to propagate in the United States.
“Right now we’re in an aggressive containment mode,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told CNN. “This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission.”
He said it could become a disease like the seasonal flu, the “only difference is we don’t understand this virus.”
Redfield went on to question whether China has the situation under control and suggested the country allow the CDC to conduct on-the-ground work.
“Right now there’s no evidence to me that this outbreak is at all under control, it’s definitely not controlled,” he said. “The sooner we can help them get it under control, the better for the whole world.”
So far, only the World Health Organization (WHO) has been helping China assess the outbreak. When asked if the CDC is not working in China for political reasons, Redfield said, ”All I can say is it is above the director of CDC because I know he would love to have that as a system.”
“There’s a lot of information we don’t know — that’s why I offered to provide assistance, direct assistance, and send our CDC folks over there back on January 6 to really help them gather that information and also to help us see the information first hand that we need to help make the right public health recommendations for our nation,” Redfield said.
“That letter has not been responded to yet by the official Chinese government.”
Redfield’s comments come the same day the CDC announced the 15th confirmed case of coronavirus in the U.S.
The U.S. has evacuated and quarantined more than 800 Americans from Wuhan since the outbreak started last month; 600 are still in federal quarantine facilities.
According to WHO, there are more than 47,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide, most of them in China.