In an extraordinarily calm and sincere tone, the Prime Minister of Singapore recognized something difficult: the new coronavirus disease, Covid-19, was probably spreading in his country, even among people who had never been to China.
“In recent days,” Lee Hsien Loong said on February 8 in a Facebook video, “we have seen some cases that cannot be traced back to the source of the infection.” This worried us because it showed that the virus is probably already circulating in our own population. “If the virus is even more prevalent, he added,” there is no point in trying to trace any contact. “Instead of trying to contain the disease, health officials in Singapore will have to accept that it has gone everywhere and go on to mitigate its impact. .
With Singapore’s proximity and its close ties to China, it is uniquely exposed to Covid-19. (To date, it has recorded 67 cases of the new coronavirus disease, one of the highest outside of mainland China and no deaths.)
But global health experts increasingly warn that it is possible that more countries already have, or probably see, what Singapore has: a greater spread of this new disease within its borders, or “community transmission”, in terms of public health.
“Since the disease is so widespread in China and given that China has so much interaction with the rest of the world … and it seems that mild cases are able to spread, we should prepare and wait for the community to spread all over the world. world, “said Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Safety at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
This warning also occurs when the vast majority of Covid-19’s 64,000 cases and 1,300 deaths are still in mainland China.
“The situation in China is quite serious, with multiple generations of sustained transmission,” said Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, in Vox. “Doing so results in a global pandemic if it spreads around the world.”
Documented cases of community propagation in other countries outside of China have been limited to date, but there are good reasons to believe that they are only the tip of the iceberg. And once more cases are confirmed, the threat of a pandemic (the disease that spreads around the world) increases, as well as the number of people who infect the virus and the duration of the battle against it. A look at small outbreaks in five countries, with strong public health systems like the United States, helps explain why.