Vehicle Maintenance Utility Service Worker Thiphavanh 'Loui' Thepvongsa wipes down an off-duty bus with a disinfectant during a routine cleaning at the King County Metro Atlantic and Central Base in Seattle

Source: Amanda Woods

A doctor on the front lines of battling coronavirus in the US said this week that the rapid spread of the deadly bug has risen to the level of an “outbreak” — and possibly even a “pandemic.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, told NBC Nightly News’ Richard Engel Monday that the illness — which has infected 100 people, killing six in the US — is “an evolving situation.”

“We’re dealing with clearly an emerging infectious disease that is now reached outbreak proportions and likely pandemic proportions,” he said. “If you look at, you know, by multiple definitions of what a pandemic is, the fact is this is multiple sustained transmissions of a highly infectious agent in multiple regions of the globe.”

Fauci urged the public not to compare the coronavirus to the seasonal flu — because the impact of the new bug can be far worse.

“When you have a brand new virus, in which no one has had any experience before, that kind of gives the virus an open roadway to spread,” he said.

He also warned of the infection’s alarming mortality rate.

“If you look at the people who have just come to the attention of the health authorities, that’s 2 to 2-and-a-half percent,” Fauci said. “But even if it goes down to 1 percent, that’s still very, very serious.”

“So if it went from 2 percent to 1, [it is] still 10 times more lethal than the standard influenza that we get on a seasonal basis,” he added.

Enlarge ImageA map of US states where coronavirus cases and deaths have been reported.
NY Post graphic

Coronavirus concerns have not yet prompted any significant closures or cancellations in the US, but that is definitely not out of the question, according to Fauci.

“We need to be at least thinking about the possibility if we get a major outbreak of this coronavirus in this country,” the doctor said. “That would mean perhaps closing schools temporarily, getting people to do more teleworking, canceling events where there is a lot of crowds in confined places, canceling unnecessary travels so that you’re not on an airplane for five hours with a bunch of people who might be infected.”