President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in Washington. Picture: AP
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in Washington. Picture: AP

Trump slammed: ‘Millions could die’

Doctors have reacted with horror to an unexpected declaration from Donald Trump that he wants the United States reopened within weeks.

During an appearance on the cable news network Fox, the president set Easter Sunday as his desired deadline for removing strict restrictions designed to slow the rapid spread of coronavirus.

"We're opening up this incredible country, because we have to do that," Mr Trump said.

"I would love to have it open by Easter. I would love to have that. It's such an important day for other reasons, but I'd love to make it an important day for this.

"I would love to have the country opened up, and rarin' to go by Easter."

Responding to the remarks, Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, took to Twitter to warn that millions of American could die.

President Donald Trump has indicated his desire to reopen the United States by Easter. Picture: AP
President Donald Trump has indicated his desire to reopen the United States by Easter. Picture: AP

 

Reopening non-essential businesses too early, especially while confirmed cases of coronavirus continue to skyrocket across America, would be a devastating decision, Dr Inglesby said.

"COVID has been spreading w/ exponential growth in US for some time, and we're just beginning to get an understanding of how extensively," he wrote.

"Some hospitals have said publicly that within a week they will not have ventilators to treat everyone with COVID anymore.

"Anyone advising the end of social distancing now needs to fully understand what the country will look like if we do that.

"COVID would spread widely, rapidly, terribly, could kill potentially millions in the (year) ahead with huge social and economic impact across the country."

As of Tuesday, there were more than 48,000 cases of coronavirus in the US. More than 600 people are dead.

 

People line up outside Elmhurst Hospital in New York to be tested for the coronavirus Picture: AP
People line up outside Elmhurst Hospital in New York to be tested for the coronavirus Picture: AP

 

 

Dr Inglesby is an expert in infectious diseases and pandemics, and called for more testing before social distancing measures are eased.

"In Asia they've slowed the disease by slowing social interaction. Left to its own, this disease spreads from 1 person to about 2.5 people, and then they do the same, and so on," he wrote.

"These big social distancing measures take time to work. The impact of big interventions in Wuhan China took about 3 (weeks) to start to reverse things. And then everyday after the situation got better.

"In the US, we're about 7 to 10 days into this, depending on the state.

"To drop all these measures now would be to accept that COVID (patients) will get sick in extraordinary numbers all over the country, far beyond what the US health care system could bear."

Pedestrian traffic is light along Wall Street in Lower Manhattan in New York. Picture: AP
Pedestrian traffic is light along Wall Street in Lower Manhattan in New York. Picture: AP

 

Tina Tan, a board member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and a doctor at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, told CNBC that "obviously Trump is not rooted in reality".

"This is the making of a major public health disaster. I am not sure where he is getting his information from, but it is extremely flawed," Dr Tan said.

At a press conference on Monday, Mr Trump indicated that he believed the economic consequences of coronavirus containment measures could be worse than the virus itself.

"We can't have the cure be worse than the problem," he told reporters.

At a second press briefing on Tuesday night local time, Mr Trump walked back his Easter deadline.

"We'll only do it if it's good," he said. "I just think it would be a beautiful timeline."

Originally published as Trump slammed: 'Millions could die'



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