World Health Organization raises China-originated coronavirus global risk assessment to ‘very high’

Children wear masks to prevent an outbreak of a new coronavirus at the Hong Kong West Kowloon High Speed Train Station, in Hong Kong, China January 23, 2020. (Photo courtesy: Reuters)

(TibetanReview.net, 29 Feb 2020) – As the China-originated Covid-19 infections crossed the borders of more than 50 countries encompassing all continents except Antarctica, the World Health Organization (WHO) Feb28 raised its risk assessment of the epidemic from “high” to “very high” at global level, but still stopped short of calling it a pandemic. However, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had already said Feb 27 that the threat of a global pandemic was “now very much upon us”. And now US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has on Feb 28 called the coronavirus a “pandemic”.

“Our epidemiologists have been monitoring these developments continuously, and we have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of Covid-19 to very high at a global level,” China’s official Xinhua news agency Feb 28 quoted WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as saying at a daily briefing.

He has expressed concern over the continued increase in the number of cases and affected countries over the last few days.

In a news conference the director-general of the World Health Organization called the coronavirus outbreak “unprecedented” and declared a global public-health emergency. (Photo courtesy: NYT)

The report noted that Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Nigeria had all reported their first cases Feb 27, with all the cases having links to Italy.

“We’re on the highest level of alert and risk assessment in terms of spread and impact, but that’s not to alarm and scare people,” Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, was quoted as saying.

However, in the United States, Agriculture Secretary Perdue has called the spread of the virus a pandemic.

“Hopefully we can get past this coronavirus pandemic very quickly and get back to the trade,” edition.cnn.com Feb 29 quoted Perdue as saying while speaking to farmers at the Commodity Classic conference in San Antonio, south-central Texas.

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In South Korea, the worst hit country outside China, the number of those infected has exceeded China’s for the third straight day. The country confirmed 813 more cases on Feb 29, raising the total number of infections to 3,150, according to data compiled by scmp.com Feb 29. Three more deaths were reported in the country, taking the total to 16.

In Italy the total number of confirmed cases increased to 888, including 21 fatalities as of Feb 28. Three of the deaths occurred on Feb 28, with the victim being all over 70 or 80 years old.

Iran had a total of 388 infections and 34 deaths as of Feb 29.

Japan, Hong Kong, France, Taiwan, and Philippines had 235, 94, 57, 39, and 3 cases respectively with 5, 2, 2, 1, and 1 deaths respectively. In addition, the Diamond Princess cruise liner, anchored on Japan’s coast, had a total of 705 infections and 6 deaths.

Other countries with more than 10 infections, but no death, include Singapore (98), US (62), Germany (53), Kuwait (45), Spain (41), Thailand (41), Bahrain (36), Malaysia (25), Australia (24), the UK (20), UAE (19), Vietnam (16), Canada (14) and Sweden (11).

In France, the number of people testing positive for the novel coronavirus increased by 19 on Feb 28. “Many clusters have been detected, and whose contagion chains are identified and contamination can be explained,” Xinhua Feb 28 quoted the country’s Health Minister Olivier Veran as saying.

In Germany, Susanne Wackers, spokesperson of the federal health ministry, has said the number of confirmed cases had climbed sharply from 16 on Feb 25, said a Xinhua report Feb 29.

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China reported 427 new confirmed cases and 47 deaths as of Feb 28, taking their totals to 79,251 and 2,835, respectively.

Those suspected to be infected totaled 1,418 while a total of 39,002 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery, reported China’s official media Feb 29.

A total of 58,233 others were stated to be still under medical observation.

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