Public health officials have warned that the spread of the novel coronavirus is inching closer toward meeting the definition of a global pandemic, with a top Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official stressing that the United States could see the virus spread within its borders.
“Ultimately we expect we will see community spread in this country. It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Tuesday in a statement.
South Korea currently has the largest outbreak outside mainland China, with more than 1,200 people infected — including the first U.S. soldier — and at least 12 dead. Iran’s health ministry has confirmed at least 95 cases and 15 fatalities. In Italy, at least 322 people have been infected and 11 have been killed, while Algeria, Croatia, mainland Spain and Switzerland all announced their first confirmed cases.