Containment is critical in fighting the novel coronavirus COVID-19, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia the medical director of the Special Pathogens Unit at the Boston University School of Medicine, said Thursday during an interview with Boston Public Radio.

She said that the predominant goal of both healthcare professionals, the government and citizens should be to prevent the virus from spreading further. Though reports have said that COVID-19 may not be as severe in younger people than the elderly, Bhadelia said that it is important to ensure that younger people do not transmit the disease to the elderly.

“Why is there so much stress? The worry is that there’s a good percentage of the people who will get this disease, those who are elderly, those who have more medical conditions. And these are our parents, these are our family members who might have these conditions, [they] may get more severe disease,” Bhadelia said. “What we’re all trying to do is reduce the chances of any one of us getting the infection so that we don’t pass on the infection to them.”

Bhadelia said that the lack of testing kits has also allowed the disease to proliferate. She said that had testing begun earlier, and on a wider scale, the spread of the virus may not have been as deleterious as it is now.

“I think when we look back at this historically, when we look back at this epidemic, we’re going to look at this failure to be able to ramp up testing as one of the biggest public health failures we’ve seen in U.S. history in recent times,” Bhadelia said. “If you had been able to test a lot more earlier you would have been able to find those pockets of infections that might have existed in certain geography of the United States, and be able to sort of stress a lot more public health resources in those areas and keep the disease from spreading.”

Bhadelia is an infectious diseases physician and Medical Director of the Special Pathogens Unit at the Boston University School of Medicine