Coronavirus News Asia

Why US is leading world in confirmed virus cases

From the first known patient in late January to now almost 100,000 infected, the United States has earned the unwanted distinction of leading the world in confirmed coronavirus cases. 

Close to 1,500 people have succumbed to the Covid-19 illness – though for now the death rate remains far lower than Italy and several European countries. 

How did we get here? And what happens next?

Testing, testing, testing

Public health experts say that while we’ve yet to hit the peak of the US epidemic, there are several reasons why the Covid-19 disease has exploded in America.

Early on in the outbreak, President Donald Trump was accused of downplaying its severity, saying that sustained community spread was not “inevitable” even after a senior health official said it was, which could have led to a sense of complacency.

As the illness took root, first in the West Coast states of Washington and California, the US was unable to perform meaningful levels of contact tracing because it was so slow off the mark with testing.

The government initially refused to relax regulatory hurdles that would have allowed states and local health departments to develop their own test kits based on guidelines provided by the World Health Organization, and all early samples were being sent to the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

Then the CDC sent out faulty test kits to the states, adding to delays. 

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