KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 — American federal health authorities urged people across the United States to cancel or postpone events with 50 or more attendees for the next eight weeks amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said gatherings of any size should be reconsidered — unless organisers can protect those vulnerable, ensure proper hand hygiene, and social distancing.
“Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of Covid-19 in the United States (US) via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities,” the CDC said in revised guidelines that were issued on Sunday.
The US’ leading national public health institute made reference to conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, and weddings as examples of gatherings that should be postponed.
“When feasible, organisers could modify events to be virtual,” the agency added.
The new recommendations outlined in the CDC guidelines do not apply to the day-to-day operation of organisations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses.
“This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus.
“This recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every American state in the last few weeks, spreading from about 100 people on March 1 to almost 3,300 people on Sunday, data compiled by the CDC and other officials showed.
The coronavirus has already killed 62 people in the US, with public officials forecasting that the number of confirmed infections and deaths in the country will rise. Concerns of not being able to get tested have been raised by local leaders.
US President Donald Trump has since called for calm, saying: “There’s a very contagious virus, it’s incredible, but it’s something that we have tremendous control of,” during a recent press conference.