Newt Gingrich: Coronavirus is a reminder to stay ahead of pandemics

We first heard about coronavirus only weeks ago. What started as a local outbreak in Wuhan, China, quickly spread across the entire country – and then around the world.

Now there are at least 12 cases of the coronavirus in the United States. The death toll in China is well into the hundreds and continues to increase.

Across the globe, people are asking whether we are facing the next global pandemic.

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To answer this question and explain how concerned we, as Americans, should be, I discuss the coronavirus in detail on this week’s episode of "Newt’s World."

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Despite conspiracy theories about biological weapons, the virus almost certainly came from animal populations, perhaps food markets.

The outbreak is a reminder of how connected we all are, and that we need a sustained, worldwide flow of information in real-time to deal with global issues like this one. In today’s interconnected world, anyone is just a plane ride away from anywhere.

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I was just in South Korea and observed that everyone who walked into a very high-end hotel had their temperatures checked. Anyone with a raised temperature was not allowed to enter. It was very interesting to observe the Korean response.

Of course, China is the most directly affected country. The Chinese have effectively imposed a national quarantine and shut off entire cities. In some cases, authorities have even piled dirt to block roads. Such tactics raise a host of other issues – like how to bring food into these quarantined populations so people don’t starve.

Chinese citizens are used to restrictions that we would never accept in the West, but it is still appalling to imagine living under such conditions.

The coronavirus is hardly the first outbreak to threaten China. Bird and swine flu have wreaked havoc in China and other Asian countries, as has SARS. Fortunately, mortality rates from the coronavirus have been relatively low compared to other outbreaks, and there are indications that this will be a short crisis.

Still, we must be vigilant and educate ourselves to stay ahead of potential pandemics.

In this week’s episode of "Newt’s World," I speak with two exceptionally qualified experts about the coronavirus. My first guest is Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health. I then talk to Dr. Peter Daszak, who is president of EcoHealth Alliance and a disease ecologist.

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Both men discuss the epidemiology of the coronavirus, how China has handled the outbreak, the threat posed to Americans, and what to expect going forward.

I hope you will listen to this week’s episode to get a better understanding of an outbreak that could have major implications if it continues to spread.

To read, hear, and watch more of Newt’s commentary, visit Gingrich360.com.

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