Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN he thinks "we are clearly at the brink" of a coronavirus pandemic.
In an interview with CNN's Michael Smerconish on Saturday, the nation's top infectious disease doctor said: "Our fate is going to be determined by the ability of countries outside of China that have travel-related cases. And now they're starting to develop sustained transmission from person to person to person."
"So when you get countries like Japan and South Korea that have these cases that are person to person to person without any real ability to point to where it came from, that's the makings of a pandemic," Fauci said.
"And if you have multiple countries like that, then the horse is out the barn. And it's going to be very difficult to prevent more cases from coming here to our own country."
Fauci said, however, that the risk to the US is still "very low," but warned that could "change rapidly." He also said evacuating Americans off the Diamond Princess cruise ship was a "difficult decision," but he believed it was "without a doubt the correct decision."