ANKARA

Christmas season could be worse than Thanksgiving weekend for the spread of the novel coronavirus in the US, the country’s top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci warned on Monday.  

The US added more than one million COVID-19 cases in just the first five days of December, and the number of new cases hit 227,885 last Friday, marking the highest single-day figure during the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The figures came right after the 4-day Thanksgiving weekend between Nov. 26-29 when millions of Americans visited their families.

Christmas season, however, extends 11 days this year from Dec. 24 through Jan. 3, in which family visitations will be longer, and this could bring a new record number of cases in the first half of January.

“This may be even more compounded because it’s a longer holiday … it can be even more of a challenge than what we saw with Thanksgiving,” Fauci told CNN.

“I hope that people realize that and understand that as difficult as this is, nobody wants to modify, if not, essentially shut down, their holiday season,” added the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The US’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a week before Thanksgiving weekend warning Americans not to travel, but millions did so before and after the holiday.

Sunday, Nov. 29, the last day of Thanksgiving weekend, recorded the highest air passenger volume in the country since March.

The US still leads the world with more than 14.8 million COVID-19 cases, while deaths were over 283,000 as of Monday, Johns Hopkins University data showed.

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