America should prepare for a "surge upon a surge" in coronavirus cases as millions of travelers return home after the Thanksgiving holiday, top US scientist Anthony Fauci warned Sunday.
The United States is the world's worst-affected country, with 266,831 Covid-19 deaths, and President Donald Trump's administration has issued conflicting messages on mask-wearing, travel and the danger posed by the virus.
"There almost certainly is going to be an uptick because of what has happened with the travel," Fauci told CNN's "State of the Union."
Travel surrounding Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday made this the busiest week in US airports since the pandemic began.
"We may see a surge upon a surge" in two or three weeks, Fauci added. "We don't want to frighten people, but that's the reality."
The trend is ominous, Fauci and other government scientists said, with the Christmas holidays sure to bring more travel and family gatherings.
Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, noted a surge in Covid-19 after a holiday weekend in May.
"Now we're entering this post-Thanksgiving surge with three, four and 10 times as much disease across the country,' she told CBS's "Face the Nation."
"We are deeply worried."
The US surgeon general, Jerome Adams, was equally blunt. "I want to be straight with the American people," he told "Fox News Sunday."
"It's going to get worse over the next several weeks."
In the 24 hours to 0130 GMT yesterday, the country added 140,651 cases, taking its total to 13,373,673, according to Johns Hopkins University. There had been 822 additional deaths.
DESPERATE WAIT FOR VACCINE
US firm Moderna said it would file requests for emergency authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine in the United States and Europe yesterday, after full results confirmed a high efficacy estimated at 94.1 percent.
"We believe that our vaccine will provide a new and powerful tool that may change the course of this pandemic and help prevent severe disease, hospitalizations and death," said the company's CEO Stephane Bancel.
If the US Food and Drug Administration agrees it is safe and effective, the first of the drug's two doses could be injected into the arms of millions of Americans by the middle of December.
Elsewhere, thousands of health workers marched in Madrid in support of Spain's public health system, in one of the European countries hardest hit by the pandemic.
And guards opened fire to quell a prison riot in Sri Lanka, where four inmates were killed while protesting a surge in coronavirus infections.
Hong Kong introduced a hotline to denounce people who do not respect social distancing after ballroom dancing nights are blamed for helping spark a fourth wave of infections.
In France, the highest administrative court ordered the government to loosen rules allowing no more than 30 people at religious services, in the face of angry objections from church leaders.
Around 9,000 runners -- some wearing face masks -- took part in the Shanghai International Marathon, according to Chinese media, a mass-participation sports event rare during the pandemic.
New York City again took a small step back toward normality, as Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that elementary schools would reopen for in-person instruction on December 7.
Things were also returning to normal in Bolivia, where Health Minister Edgar Pozo said the country would soon allow the resumption of "cultural, sporting, religious and political activities," with appropriate safety measures -- a further easing of strict containment rules introduced in March.
The novel coronavirus has killed at least 1,460,074 people worldwide since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP yesterday.
Europe on Saturday crossed a grim milestone, as the death toll passed 400,000.
Germany, once a beacon of hope in Europe's coronavirus nightmare, reached on Friday the mark of more than one million cases.
Hospitality venues in Wales will be barred from serving alcohol and must close early under new coronavirus restrictions to be introduced later this week, the Welsh government in Britain said yesterday.