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Coronavirus may force Americans to avoid crowds


Reuters

Coronavirus may force Americans to avoid crowds

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WASHINGTON/NEW YORK – Americans, especially those who are vulnerable, may need to stop attending big gatherings as the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads through United States communities, a top health official said on Sunday, as investors braced for another volatile week in financial markets.

Anthony Fauci, the head of the infectious diseases unit at the National Institutes of Health, said on NBC’s Meet the Press that after initial missteps distributing tests, there should be 400 000 more tests available by Monday and four million by the end of the week.

In the United States, 19 people have died out of about 450 reported cases of coronavirus, which originated in China last year and causes the sometimes deadly respiratory illness COVID-19. The outbreak has killed more than 3 600 globally.

More than half of the 50 US states have reported cases, including the first cases in Virginia and Connecticut on Sunday. As the outbreak spreads, daily life has been increasingly disrupted, with concerts and conferences cancelled and universities telling students to stay home and take classes online.

To contain the outbreak in China, the government quarantined millions of people for weeks. Italy has announced similar measures, locking down 16 million people in the north of the country.

As recently as Saturday, US President Donald Trump said he would continue to hold his political rallies, which sometimes draw up to 20 000 people. The Democrats competing to challenge him in the November 3 presidential election, US Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, have not canceled any campaign events so far.

Germany, which has nearly 1 000 cases, on Sunday urged the cancellation of all events with more than 1 000 people.

Fauci said authorities in the United States may also need to consider steps to keep people out of crowded places if the virus continued to spread.

Still, he downplayed the likelihood of the type of large-scale quarantines put in place in China and Italy, while saying nothing could be ruled out.

“I don’t imagine that the degree of the draconian nature of what the Chinese did would ever be either feasible, applicable, doable or whatever you want to call it in the United States,” he said in an interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes. “But the idea of social distancing, I mean, obviously, that’s something that will be seriously considered.”

He urged those most at risk to limit travel.

“If you’re a person with an underlying condition and you are particularly an elderly person with an underlying condition you need to think twice about getting on a plane, on a long trip, and not only think twice, just don’t get on a cruise ship,” Fauci said on Meet the Press.

(Reuters)

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