US coronavirus cases still at 15, but here comes 2nd wave of flu

The number of U.S. coronavirus cases remains at 15. But at least 14 more Americans have tested positive for what is now known as “COVID-19” after they and hundreds of others returned from an infected Japanese cruise ship.

All who were flown back late Sunday night will be in quarantine for the next two weeks.

“It’s a combination of taking care of the people who need care, as well as protecting from the people who might be infected from spreading it around,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Such precautions might not ease fears about the ongoing epidemic, but the good news is that COVID-19 doesn’t yet fit the World Health Organization’s definition of a pandemic, which Fauci said would involve “sustained transmission in multiple countries.”

Flu activity continued to increase and remained high in the United States in the week ending Feb. 1, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Courtesy CDC)

“China clearly is the epicenter and has an enormous amount of sustained transmission,” he said. “There are 25, 26 or more countries that have travel-related cases in which there are also human-to-human transmission.”

That said, Americans wouldn’t notice any change if the WHO calls it a pandemic, Fauci explained to WTOP’s Bruce Alan and Joan Jones.

U.S. health officials are already reacting as if it were a pandemic — applying a dual strategy of containment and mitigation.

Fauci also said that the risk of COVID-19 infection is exceeded by something much closer to home: the flu.

Though Influenza B has been the dominant strain this season, Influenza A (aka H1N1) has been spreading as well.

“Children, unfortunately this year, are getting a double whammy,” he said. “They’re getting two waves of the flu of two different kinds of influenzas. So this … was a more-serious season than we would have anticipated.”

And, regardless of the threat, the ways to prevent infection remain the same. Check out WTOP’s coronavirus FAQ for tips on keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.

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