We’re on the verge of a global pandemic: Japan could be a key indicator when it comes to predicting a pandemic-level spread of the deadly coronavirus, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Tuesday. Japan appears to be “on the cusp of a large outbreak and maybe epidemic growth in Japan. We need to watch that very closely. They’ve had a doubling of cases just in the last four days with a total of 59 confirmed cases and one death so far, Gottlieb said on “Squawk Box.” If other countries report sharp rises in COVID-19 cases, Gottlieb said it could be a sign that the new virus can’t be controlled on a global scale. The CNBC contributor said earlier in February it’s likely the flu-like virus will grow into a pandemic but avoid becoming an epidemic in the United States.
A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease, according to the World Health Organization. An epidemic is an often-sudden increase in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected in a population in an area, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Syra Madad, an expert in public health and special pathogen response, said that while it’s still early in the outbreak, a pandemic could be near. “We’re really closing in on the tipping of this being declared a pandemic,” Madad said on “Squawk Box.” As of Tuesday, more than 73,400 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, including at least 1,874 deaths. The vast majority are in China. The World Health Organization, which has declared the virus a global health emergency, said there’s been more than 150 coronavirus cases in about two dozen countries outside of China.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran said Tuesday the coronavirus poses a “credible risk” of escalating into a global pandemic. Veran told France Info radio that the prospect of the coronavirus spreading worldwide was “both a working assumption and a credible risk.” –CNBC
Banning Chinese Nationals: Russia will temporarily ban Chinese nationals from entering the country due to the virus outbreak centered in China that has infected more than 73,000 people worldwide, Russian authorities said Tuesday. The entry ban goes into effect Thursday at midnight Moscow time (2100 GMT) for an indefinite period, according to a decree signed by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. The government said it took the move due to the “worsening epidemiological situation” in China.
Russia already had cut off most Chinese visitors by closing the long land border with China and Mongolia and imposing other travel restrictions. The new entry ban won’t affect travelers who need to transfer flights at Russian airports, authorities said. So far, Russia has had only three confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus — two Chinese citizens who were treated and released, and a Russian national infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship now quarantined in Japan. However, Russian authorities have taken significant steps to try to keep the virus from spreading, including hospitalizing hundreds of people as a precaution after they returned from China. –WSBT
Transmission through the air confirmed: China’s heath authorities say the new coronavirus can be transmitted through aerosol. The National Health Commission on Wednesday announced new guidelines for diagnosing and treating patients. Officials said the coronavirus can be passed on through aerosol transmission if a person was exposed to high concentrations of droplets in the air mixed with the virus in a relatively closed environment for a long time. They previously stated respiratory droplets and close contact are the main transmission routes, and there was no evidence that the virus can be transmitted through aerosol. –NHK World