From one week to the next, the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, went from a supposedly contained outbreak to a potential pandemic.
While the virus was spreading through East Asia to the Middle East and Western Europe, World Health Organization officials lauded the Chinese government’s “extraordinary” efforts to contain the epidemic. Now, South Korea has confirmed over 4,000 cases, airlines have suspended travel to Milan, the vice president of Iran has contracted the virus, and a senior Iranian official died from it.
American officials got off to an inauspicious start in addressing the crisis, with diagnostic tests initially limited to some 100 public-health labs. After the Food and Drug Administration expanded testing to other qualified labs, many reported inconclusive results from official diagnostic kits. A University of California–Berkeley lab was barred from testing a patient who did not meet the Centers for Disease Control criteria, which allowed testing only on patients who had traveled to China within two weeks of developing symptoms. That patient later tested positive. The FDA finally expanded diagnostic capabilities on February 29, but not before more than 70 cases had been confirmed in the U.S.
Leave a Reply