US health officials are warning that COVID could affect up to half a million people and the country is facing a “very serious” outbreak of the virus.
“We know the virus is spreading, we know the COVID [chickenpox] is spreading and we know we have a very serious problem with COVID,” Dr Richard Bove, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said at a briefing on Wednesday.
Mr Bove said that as the US gets more information about how to respond to the virus, it could also become a “burden” on the US economy.
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said on Tuesday that it had received 1,096 confirmed cases of COVID in the US, up from the previous day’s estimate of 1,026.
“The numbers are very serious,” Health Secretary Tom Price said.
“We have very high levels of COVD in the United States.
And we’re not going to allow that to continue.”
HHS Secretary Price told reporters the US had “never seen anything like it”.
“We’ve never seen anything quite like it in the history of this country,” he said.
According to Dr Andrew Kolodny, head of the infectious diseases department at University of Alabama in Huntsville, there is a 50 per cent chance the virus could reach the United Kingdom by mid-November.
He told ABC News that it was too soon to know how many people in the UK could get the disease, but said the virus would not kill people.
“It will kill a lot of people, it will cause a lot, and that is a very big concern,” he said.
Mr KolodNY said the NHS was seeing a surge in cases of coronavirus in the last few weeks.
“The virus has been around for about four months, and we’ve seen it increase in intensity.
There is a lot more COVID, and a lot less awareness,” he told ABC Radio’s Insiders program.”
We have seen it in England, we’ve got it in Scotland, we have it in Wales, we had a very high level of infection, and now it is increasing.”
Mr Kolopny said there had been a “huge rise” in cases in recent days.
“There are a lot fewer infections, we are seeing more cases in hospitals, there are more people infected and the cases are going up,” he added.
NHS England’s Chief Executive Simon Stevens said: “COVID-22 has spread across the UK, and it is clear that the number of new infections is continuing to rise rapidly, despite the best efforts of our staff, who are working tirelessly to treat and support those in need.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the number who have contracted COVID has more than doubled in less than a month, and is expected to rise to a peak of more than 14 million people in November.
More than 10 million people have tested positive for the virus in the past fortnight.
WHO spokesman Philip Luther said: “As the world moves to cope with the spread of COVA-19, we will continue to monitor the situation, monitor the coronaviruses and work closely with health authorities to keep our communities safe.”