Mon | Jan 18, 2021

US may see 'surge upon surge' COVID-19 cases in weeks ahead says top infectious disease expert

Published:Sunday | November 29, 2020 | 3:57 PMAssociated Press
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, testifies during a Senate Senate Health, Education, Labour, and Pensions Committee Hearing on the federal government response to COVID-19 on Capitol Hill Wednesday, September 23 in Washington (AP photo)

(AP)- The United States' top infectious disease expert says the US may see “surge upon a surge” of COVID-19 infections in the weeks after Thanksgiving, and he does not expect current recommendations around social distancing to be relaxed before Christmas.

Meanwhile, in a major reversal, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio said the nation’s largest school system will reopen to in-person learning and increase the number of days per week many children attend class. The announcement came just 11 days after the Democratic mayor said schools would shut down because of rising COVID-19 cases.

“We feel confident that we can keep schools safe,” he said.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s “This Week” that the level of infection in the US would not “all of a sudden turn around.”

“So clearly in the next few weeks, we’re going to have the same sort of thing. And perhaps even two or three weeks down the line ... we may see a surge upon a surge,” he said.

Spread among children less significant than thought

Fauci addressed the school issue, saying that spread “among children and from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected. So let’s try to get the kids back, but let’s try to mitigate the things that maintain and just push the kind of community spread that we’re trying to avoid,” he said.

Fauci also appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he made similar remarks, adding that it’s “not too late” for people travelling back home after Thanksgiving to help stop the spread of the virus by wearing masks, staying distant from others and avoiding large groups of people.

“So we know we can do something about it, particularly now as we get into the colder season and as we approach the Christmas holidays,” he said.

The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States topped 200,000 for the first time Friday. The highest previous daily count was 196,000 on November 20, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Since January, when the first infections were reported in the US, the nation’s total number of cases has surpassed 13 million. More than 265,000 people have died.

Fauci said the arrival of vaccines offers a “light at the end of the tunnel.” This coming week, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss a roll out of the vaccine, he said.

He added that President-elect Joe Biden should focus on distributing vaccines in an “efficient and equitable way.” Fauci also said he planned to push the new administration for a rigorous testing programme.

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