Coronavirus Expert Says First American Death Is Just 'The Tip Of The Iceberg'

An expert in the spread of the coronavirus said that the first death in the United States is just the "tip of the iceberg" as the virus is expected to continue spreading rapidly and eventually infect the majority of the world.

Professor Gabriel Leung, dean of the University of Hong Kong's medical faculty, told the South China Morning Post that the confirmed death of an American man in the state of Washington is a worrying sign because it means there could be more cases yet to be confirmed. He said this death will likely be "the tip of the iceberg" as there is much more to come.

"One death could mean there are 100 confirmed cases in the region --- and maybe you haven't recorded as many cases just because you haven't tested enough people," he said.

Leung said he believes coronavirus can now be labeled a global pandemic, something that the World Health Organization has not yet done. As the report noted, officials said the global outbreak of the deadly virus has not yet shown signs of an uncontrolled spread or the large-scale severe cases or death that would be associated with a pandemic.

But Leung said the only reason the WHO has not yet called it a pandemic is that doing so could trigger public fear, noting that the virus already has met the conditions outlined by the organization.

"Technically this is a pandemic, as it is spreading locally in many countries … but the World Health Organization insisted that it should only be called pandemic when local outbreaks get out of control," he said.

As The Inquisitr reported last month, Leung has been consistently warning about the dangers of coronavirus and noted that experts agree that one person infected by the virus will go on to infect 2.5 more people. That gives the virus an attack rate of between 60 and 80 percent, he noted. Leung said at a WHO meeting last month that even 60 percent of the world's population would be an "awfully big number."

Other experts have shared similar predictions. Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch said that between 40 and 70 percent of the world will likely become infected in the next year, though he stressed that not all cases will be severe and that some infected may not see symptoms at all. A report from The Atlantic cited other health experts who believe that the coronavirus may eventually become a recurring virus, striking every year.

"If [coronavirus] follows suit, and if the disease continues to be as severe as it is now, 'cold and flu season' could become 'cold and flu and COVID-19 season,'" the report noted.