Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy told reporters on Friday that the number of global cases of the new coronavirus is likely “five or 10 times higher” than the one million cases recorded.
Murphy also expressed doubts about the number of confirmed cases in other countries, including the United States, where nearly one in four cases worldwide has been found so far.
“I think the only numbers I have complete confidence in are the Australian numbers, frankly, because we have the highest test rate in the world,” said Murphy.
Murphy said that although China has been “fairly transparent” in its management of the epidemic and said it was possible that the US figures would be much higher than those announced.
A nephrologist by training, Murphy has become the public face of Australia’s medicinal response to the new coronavirus epidemic. At a press conference on Friday, he appeared alongside Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who said that Australia’s response to the outbreak had been successful.
“If the virus had continued to grow at the same rate as 12 days ago, we would now have more than 10,500 cases in this country,” said Morrison.
So far, Australia has registered 5,315 new coronavirus cases; Morrison said Thursday that the country has tested more than 260,000 people, representing more than 1% of its population. The growth of new cases reported in the country has slowed significantly in recent days, hoping that it will gradually be able to contain the epidemic.