80% of children ‘infected with virus’
Most New York children "probably" already have coronavirus and are serving as vectors to spread the disease, a New York paediatrician says.
Dr. Dyan Hes at New York City's Gramercy paediatrics advised parents to assume their children have the virus if they contract even mild symptoms consistent with the disease.
"I think that probably 80 per cent of the children have coronavirus.
"We are not testing children. I'm in New York City. I can't get my patients tested," Hes said during an interview at CBS News.
"And we have to assume, if they are sick, they have coronavirus. Most of them, probably 80 to 90 per cent of them, are asymptomatic."
But the number of infected children is unknown because so many children don't display any symptoms, she said - and that could alter COVID-19's mortality rate.
Yesterday there was a staggering rise of the death toll in New York City as the United States is hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
New York City added 4000 deaths to its toll, pushing the total past 10,000.
The city has become the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States - which is the worst-hit country in the world.
More than two million people around the world have been infected with COVID-19 after it was identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
The global death toll is more than 125,000.
The revised death toll in New York City comes as the city's health department added 3778 more deaths, officially listing them as probable causes.
Many of those people died in nursing homes and private homes and were not tested but are deemed to have had the virus.
The new deaths push the city's overall toll past 10,000 and New York State's total to about 15,000.
The new figures also increased the overall United States' death count by 17 per cent to more than 26,000.
The staggering new toll brings into focus the impact of the virus on the largest US city.
Its once-busy streets have now been deserted, only stirred by the howls of ambulances rushing to hospital.
"Behind every death is a friend, a family member, a loved one. We are focused on ensuring that every New Yorker who died because of COVID-19 gets counted," Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot said.
Still, there were glimmers of hope, even in New York where Governor Andrew Cuomo reported 778 deaths over the previous 24 hours.
He said fatalities were levelling off, and hospitalisations and the number of new patients put on ventilators were continuing to drop, showing that social distancing is working.
At the same time, he warned against complacency: "We could lose all the progress we made in one week if we do it wrong."
Governors across the country echoed that sentiment.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said: "We've got to make sure that we avoid a second wave at all costs.
"That would be devastating for our economy. So we're going to make decisions based on science and having a real strategic phase-in of our economy when it's appropriate and safe to do so," she said.
Adding a dose of caution from the White House, Dr Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, said in an interview with The Associated Press that the US does not yet have the testing and tracing procedures needed to begin reopening the economy.
"We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we're not there yet," Dr Fauci said.
Any relaxation of the social distancing rules would have to occur on a "rolling" basis, not all at once, he said, reflecting the ways COVID-19 struck different parts of the country at different times.
Dr Fauci also said a vaccine might be possible by mid to late winter, a slightly more optimistic outlook than his previous estimate of 12 to 18 months.
"Please, let me say this caveat: That is assuming that it's effective. See, that's the big 'if,'" he said. "It's got to be effective and it's got to be safe."
- with AP and New York Post
Originally published as 80% of children 'infected with virus'