Dr. Hugh Montgomery, who is a professor at University College London, said the “simple math” points to coronavirus being roughly three times as contagious than the flu, UK’s Channel 4 News reported.
“This coronavirus is very, very infectious, so every person passes it to three,” Montgomery told the station.
Montgomery said that “if each of those three passes it to three, and that happens at 10 layers, I have been responsible for infecting 59,000 people.”
“I’m not going to play it down,” he told the outlet. “It’s going to be ugly, it’s going to be horrible for a large number of people.”
Given the contagiousness of the virus, Montgomery is urging people to follow social distancing measures.
“This is the issue: we’ve got a limited resource, a limited number of ventilators, a limited number of doctors, a limited number of nurses, which is fine because we can’t run ourselves with a huge excess capacity all the time,” Montgomery said. “If we overwhelm that, we can’t provide that service of caring for these people properly.”
The doctor’s warning comes after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged residents Monday to stay home to stop the spread.
The UK has reported more than 8,000 cases as the virus spreads to more than 436,000 people across the world, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.