MAINE, USA — With more cases of the Coronavirus or Covid-19 as it's called being diagnosed in the Pacific Northwest, it's just a matter of time before the virus arrives in Maine.
That's according to the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Nirav Shah said the state has been preparing for this possibility since China declared an outbreak of the virus back in December.
It was just three months ago when the world first heard of the novel Coronavirus, a fast-moving and ever-changing virus that quickly reached outbreak proportions in China.
It's now named Covid-19 and it has since spread to 82 countries including the US.
"This is a rapidly dynamic changing situation and we are prepared for the possibility that there will be cases in Maine," Dr. Shah said.
Dr. Shah said he and his team and diverse group of medical professionals, including clinicians, epidemiologists, laboratory staff and public health planners and nurses from across the state have been getting ready for months, just in case.
"Once we first starting hearing about what was going on in China that team assembled so we could start coming up with scenarios that would help is us be where we are today. We are where we are in terms of our readiness because of all the preparedness we've done."
Dr. Shah said his team has been working to make sure every health care provider in Maine knows what's going on with Covid-19 and what the signs and symptoms are.
"In my experience when I'm dealing with any kind of novel outbreak the first place I go is the three I's."
Identify potential cases. If there are any signs or symptoms, rapidly Isolate and then epidemiologists will Investigate any cases and anyone who may have come in contact with those people.
Dr. Shah said there was so little known about the virus when it was first detected in China but that has changed quickly.
"The pace of scientific research and discovery with Coronavirus disease has been unlike anything I've seen."
Dr. Shah's full interview:
Dr. Shah said they've learned a lot about the virus in a short amount of time.
He said there is better data that suggests those affected with Covid-19 tend to be older or have underlying health conditions.
They believe that the virus is highly transmittable from person to person, through respiratory droplets, like sneezing or coughing on someone in close proximity.
There is also data now that indicates the fatality rate is only 1 to 2 percent of people infected.
Dr. Shah said there is still a lot more to learn about this virus. In the meantime he is asking people in Maine to do two things...the first is stay informed.
"We're in a situation right now where fear and misinformation can spread far more quickly than this virus."
Dr. Shah recommends the Maine CDC website and the USCDC website for the most accurate and timely information.
The director also recommends, if you haven't gotten a flu shot, get one. It's not too late since the flu is still a much bigger threat to Mainers.
He also said health care providers want to do everything they can to keep hospital beds free of flu patients so they'll be able to treat anyone who comes down with Covid-19.
FACTS NOT FEAR: NEWS CENTER Maine's COVID-19 COVERAGE