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Second Covid-19 wave in US could be more deadly: Top health expert

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It will likely coincide with start of the flu season, straining healthcare systems

WASHINGTON: A second wave of the coronavirus in the US could be even more destructive because it will likely collide with the beginning of the flu season, one of the country's top health officials said on Tuesday.

Dr Robert Redfield, director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), called on 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," he said.

"We're going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time."

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 in any country.

Billions of people around the world have been ordered to stay at home in recent months as governments try to prevent the virus from overwhelming healthcare systems.

The US, like other countries, has scrambled to secure enough ventilators and personal protection equipment for medical staff while the death toll mounts.

Dr Redfield said the virus arrived in the US just as regular flu season - which itself can strain healthcare systems - was waning.

If the two diseases had peaked at the same time, he said, "it could have been really, really, really, really difficult" for health systems to cope.

Getting a flu shot ahead of next flu season, he said, "may allow there to be a hospital bed available for your mother or grandmother that may get the coronavirus".


Governors of about half a dozen US states pushed ahead on Tuesday with plans to partially reopen for business despite warnings by some health officials that doing so could trigger a new surge in cases.

The easing of sweeping restrictions in Georgia, South Carolina and other mostly Southern US states follows protests against rules imposed during the pandemic that shut down businesses and largely confined residents to their homes.

A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll showed a majority of Americans believed stay-at-home orders should remain in place until public health officials determine lifting them is safe, despite the damage to the US economy.

"It's a matter of concern, this whole idea of opening up. It's based on non-science generated parameters," Dr Boris Lushniak, dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Health, told Reuters.

President Donald Trump, 73, tweeted his support yesterday.

"States are safely coming back. Our Country is starting to open for business again. Special care is, and always will be, given to our beloved seniors (except me!)," wrote Mr Trump.

In a separate development, the US state of Missouri has sued China's leadership over the coronavirus, prompting an angry rebuke from Beijing yesterday over the "absurd" claim.

"The Chinese government lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of Covid-19, silenced whistleblowers and did little to stop the spread of the disease," Missouri Attorney-General Eric Schmitt said. - AFP, REUTERS