In a chilling warning, the US will see 100,000 to 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus, the Trump administration's topmost infection disease expert forecast on Sunday as the pandemic infected nearly 125,000 people in the country.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci said in an interview on CNN that the US will certainly have “millions of cases” of COVID-19 and more than 100,000 deaths.
Fauci made the scary prediction as the COVID-19 infections in the country neared 125,000 from 10,000 less than 10 days ago, making the US the world's top hotspot.
“Looking at what we are seeing now, I would say between 100,000-200,00” deaths from coronavirus.
“We're going to have millions of cases,” he said.
"But I don't want to be held to that, because it's -- excuse me -- deaths. I mean, we're going to have millions of cases,” Fauci said.
The deadly disease is spreading like wildfire in the US with the New York City metropolitan area being the hotspot accounting for nearly 50 per cent of the total cases in the country.
Fauci, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said the spread of the deadly virus that originated in Wuhan city in China is unlikely to slowdown in the coming days.
“But I just don't think that we really need to make a projection, when it's such a moving target, that you can so easily be wrong and mislead people. "What we do know, is that we got a serious problem in New York, we have a serious problem in New Orleans, and we're going to be developing serious problems in other areas,” Fauci said.
President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency, major disaster declaration has been issued for more than 20 of the 50 US States, army has been roped in for health care and other services and a USD 2.2 trillion stimulus package has been announced to mitigate the financial woes of the Americans, small and medium businesses and corporations.
Responding to a question, Fauci said that it's true the virus itself determines its timetable.
“You can try and influence that timetable by mitigating against the virus, but, ultimately, it's what the virus does. And when I start seeing this happen, then I will come back on the show and tell you, I think we're at that point now where we can start pulling back a little, but not right now in several of the places that I just mentioned,” he said.
Fauci expressed concern at the infection rate in the New York City area, which is about 56 per cent of all of the new infections in the country.
“That's terrible suffering for the people of New York, which I feel myself personally, as a New Yorker,” he said.
“So what was trying to be done is to get people, unless there's necessary travel, so, all non-essential travel, to just hold off, because what you don't want is people travelling from that area to other areas of the country, and inadvertently and innocently infecting other individuals,” Fauci added.
He said President Trump decided not to impose a “quarantine” on parts of the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and instead issue a travel advisory for that area after officials “had very intensive discussions last night” at the White House with him.
“After discussions with the President we made it clear and he agreed it would be much better to do what's called a strong advisory," Fauci said.
"The reason for that is you don't want to get to the point that you're enforcing things that would create a bigger difficulty, morale and otherwise, when you could probably accomplish the same goal," Fauci said.
According to him, the White House task force wants to strongly do mitigation in areas like New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area, at the same time that don't neglect other areas of the country, where it looks like there are just relatively few infections, because they have a window of opportunity there to get out there and test.
“And if we do testing, identification, isolation, getting people out of circulation who are infected, and contact tracing, we might be able to prevent those areas from getting to that stage where we'd have to do mitigation, which is much more than difficult and much more frustrating than trying to contain,” he said.
According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre, the US has 124,763 cases and witnessed 2,612 deaths as of Sunday morning.
A total of 2,612 patients have recovered, it said.
Globally, the number of COVID-19 cases stand at 684,652 and more than 32,000 people have died of the disease.