Story at a glance
- Fauci said the coronavirus is 10 times deadlier than the seasonal flu, which has a 0.1 percent mortality rate.
- More than 1,000 people have been infected in the U.S. with 31 deaths.
- The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a pandemic.
The federal government’s top infectious disease expert told lawmakers Wednesday that the novel coronavirus spreading across the globe is 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu.
“I mean people always say, ‘Well, the flu does this, the flu does that,’” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said Wednesday during a hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
“The flu has a mortality rate of 0.1 percent. This has a mortality rate of 10 times that. That’s the reason I want to emphasize we have to stay ahead of the game in preventing this,” he added.
Fauci warned that the outbreak in the U.S. is going to get worse before it gets better and said the U.S. must act quickly to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
He said how much worse it gets depends on the country’s ability to contain the influx of infected people coming to the U.S. from other countries, as well as the ability to contain and mitigate the virus domestically.
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“Bottom line: It’s going to get worse,” Fauci said. “If we don’t do very serious mitigation now, what’s going to happen is we’re going to be weeks behind,” in containing the spread of the virus.
The coronavirus has now infected more than 1,000 people in the U.S. in nearly 40 states, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield told the congressional committee the virus has killed 31 people across the nation. At least 19 states have declared a state of emergency.
Fauci’s warning came on the same day the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic, as the number of cases outside China has increased thirteenfold, and the number of countries with cases has tripled in the past two weeks.
There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have died, according to WHO.
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