Second coronavirus wave may be worse, warns US health chief

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Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

WASHINGTON — A top US public health official warned on Tuesday that a new wave of coronavirus hitting the US next winter could be “even more difficult” for America to deal with than the current outbreak as it will likely collide with the beginning of flu season.

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), urged Americans to use the coming months to prepare — and get their flu shots.

"There's a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through," CDC Director Robert Redfield told the Washington Post in an interview.

“We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he said.

Having two simultaneous respiratory outbreaks would put unimaginable strain on the healthcare system, he told the Post.

The US has recorded more than 800,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, with 44,845 deaths -- the most reported of any country.

While there are shots to help prevent the flue and drugs to help treat it -- unlike with the novel coronavirus, which still has no approved treatment or vaccine -- it remains a deadly infection.

Last year, the flu killed at least 34,200 Americans, according to the CDC, and made an estimated 35.5 million people sick.

To have both the flu and the coronavirus circulating at the same time could overwhelm hospitals and doctors' offices that are already stretched thin in a bad flu season. — Agencies


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