The U.S. Navy has ordered that all ships that have visited nations in the Pacific region to self-quarantine at sea for two weeks in an effort to stop of the spread of the coronavirus, which originated in China.
U.S. Navy spokesman Lt. James Adam told CNN that while there is no indication that any sailors have been infected with the coronavirus, the Navy was taking no chances when it comes to potentially spreading the coronavirus.
“Out of an abundance of caution, Pacific Fleet is implementing additional mitigations to prevent Sailors from contracting COVID-19, and to monitor Sailors who have traveled to higher-risk areas,” Adam said. “The health and welfare of our sailors, civilians, and their families is paramount and our efforts are directed at detection and, if required, prevention of the spread of this illness.”
The news comes as California and New York are reportedly monitoring over 9,000 people for the the coronavirus as experts warn that the U.S. could see a boom in cases overnight.
Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, an adjunct professor of epidemiology at the University of California Los Angeles who previously worked for the CDC, told The Daily Beast on Thursday that Americans should prepare for an outbreak but should not panic.
“It’s possible to say suddenly we’ll have 20 or 30 cases from one particular place,” Klausner said. “People should expect that, but people should not be overly concerned about that. If we were testing everyone for the common cold, we would find hundreds of thousands of cases.”
“It’s a cold virus, and colds are readily transmissible from person-to-person,” Klausner added. “There can be a rapid increase in the number of people with a cold virus, particularly in winter environments where people are more likely to be in close contact.”
The news comes as the Trump administration was reportedly considering on Thursday to invoke special powers through the Defense Production Act, which was “passed by Congress in 1950 at the outset of the Korean War, would mark an escalation of the administration’s response to the outbreak. The virus first surfaced in China and has since spread to other countries including the United States,” Reuters reported. “The law grants the president the power to expand industrial production of key materials or products for national security and other reasons.”
A report late last year from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that the United States was by far the most prepared nation on earth to handle a potential pandemic.
The 140 Global Health Security Index questions that the report asked were organized across seven categories:
- Prevention: Prevention of the emergence or release of pathogens
- Detection and Reporting: Early detection and reporting for epidemics of potential international concern
- Rapid Response: Rapid response to and mitigation of the spread of an epidemic
- Health System: Sufficient and robust health system to treat the sick and protect health workers
- Compliance with International Norms: Commitments to improving national capacity, financing plans to address gaps, and adhering to global norms
- Risk Environment: Overall risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats
The report ranked the United States:
- Overall: #1
- Prevention: #1
- Detection and Reporting: #1
- Rapid Response: #2
- Health System: #1
- Compliance with International Norms: #1
- Risk Environment: #19
This report has been updated to include additional information.