A new strain of the coronavirus spreading rapidly in the UK may already be here in the US, doctors warn. The variant in the UK has spurred at least 40 countries to close their borders to the island nation.
“We’ve had people from the UK for the past few weeks, so why wouldn’t this virus jump on the plane with everyone in their blood and in their respiratory secretions?” Dr. Dyan Hes, a pediatrician in New York City, said on CBSN Tuesday.
World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on one press conference Monday that the strain is said to be more contagious than the first, although there is no evidence that it is more deadly.
Experts included Dr. Anthony Fauci agree that the new variant of the virus is likely already within our nation’s borders.
“When you have that much spread within a place like the UK, you really have to assume it’s already there,” Fauci said on Good Morning America Tuesday. “Maybe not, and certainly not the dominant strain, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was there.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that British Airways, Delta and Virgin Atlantic have all voluntarily agreed to test travelers from the UK for coronavirus earlier. flights leave for the state. Cuomo also called on the federal government to impose further restrictions.
“I don’t think a travel ban is the worst,” said Dr. Hes. “The truth is, we shouldn’t really be traveling abroad unless it’s an emergency.”
Fauci, however, said a travel ban would be a “draconian” measure.
“The possibility, and perhaps the likelihood, of requiring individuals to be tested before boarding an aircraft to the United States is constantly being considered,” explained Fauci. “That’s a big difference, [rather] then just shut down completely and ban travel completely, which are actually quite dramatic steps. “
Nearly 120 countries have required British travelers to pass a negative test before boarding a flight from the country.
As for COVID-19 testing for Americans who want it, according to Hes, the US isn’t where it needs to be.
“The tests are only going to big chains,” she said. “We need more tests to send to us, and we need them to be affordable.”
From her own personal experience, Hes said she bought four Abbott Labs testing machines for her medical practice in August. Since then, she said she’s only been able to take 48 tests, and that’s all the supplies she could get her hands on.
“This is why the spread will continue … Doctors are eager to do the tests and we can’t even get enough to get it done,” she said.