WASHINGTON: The main US disaster response agency has asked the Defense Department for 100,000 body bags as the toll mounts from the novel coronavirus, the Pentagon said Thursday.

White House experts have said that US deaths from the disease — currently at more than 5,100 — are expected to climb to between 100,000 and 240,000, even with mitigation efforts in force.

The Pentaon said its Defense Logistics Agency was tending to the request by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The DLA “is currently responding to FEMA’s prudent planning efforts for 100,000 pouches to address mortuary contingencies on behalf of state health agencies,” Pentagon spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews said.

With the infection rate and deaths mounting — especially in New York City — President Donald Trump warned Tuesday that the country can expect “a very, very painful two weeks.”

“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” he said.—AFP