‘Behave more responsibly’: US issues Covid-19 warning to the young
US health officials and experts have expressed frustration and annoyance with widespread display of indifference from younger people to the dangers of coronavirus outbreak.Updated: Mar 19, 2020 09:25 IST
As the United States witnessed a surge in coronavirus infections and fatalities, the White House on Wednesday warned young people that they may not be as resistant to the virus as earlier believed, and appealed to them to behave more responsibly for their own sake and the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.
US public health officials, experts and media commentators have expressed frustration and annoyance with a widespread display of indifference from younger people, as captured in visuals running non-stop on some TV channels of a crowded beach in Florida, to the dangers of the outbreak and recommended precautions.
Police officers have had to move in to shut down bars and restaurants that have continued to attract customers that are mostly young.
The elderly, mostly those 60 and older, and those with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, and heart and lung ailments are said to be the most vulnerable, and at the highest risk of the new coronavirus infection, according to all advance warnings, including from America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“There are concerning reports coming out of France and Italy about some young people getting seriously ill, and very seriously ill in the ICUs,” said Dr Deborah Leah Birx, coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Task appointed by President Donald Trump.
Earlier assumptions about the elderly and those with underlying conditions being most at risk were based on “early data” coming out of China and South Korea, she addedat a news briefing at the White House flanked by President Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence and top health officials.
Dr Birx did not cite new data or specific information to back up her alarm about the vulnerability of young people, and acknowledged as much. “We have not seen any significant mortality in the children, but we are concerned about the early reports coming out of Italy and France,” she said.
The United States has shut down its schools and colleges, and bars and restaurants; prohibited large gatherings; and banned travellers from China, South Korea, Iran, Europe, Mexico, and, starting Wednesday, Canada in an aggressive bid to prevent the spread and new infusion of the virus.
The administration and congress have also worked expeditiously to provide financial cushion to businesses, large and small, and individuals impacted by the outbreak amidst dire forecast of a recession worse than those in near memory, including that in the aftermath of the September 9, 2001 attacks and the 2008 economic crash.
“We cannot have these large gatherings that continue to occur throughout the country for people who are off work, to then be socialising in large groups and spreading the virus,” said Dr Birx in the most blunt message yet to this group of most unconsciously vulnerable population. “You have the potential then to spread it to someone who does have a condition that none of us knew about and cause them to have a disastrous outcome.”