WHO Chief: Coronavirus Cases Exceeds 90,000 Worldwide
The head of the World Health Organization, WHO said that public health officials are operating in “uncharted territory” as they combat the spread of the novel Coronavirus, which has infected more than 90,000 people across 73 countries and territories.
The virus has spread to every continent except Antarctica, since it was first identified in December last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Medical workers are now battling deadly outbreak clusters in South Korea, Iran and Italy, while other countries are working furiously to avoid a similar fate by ensuring that public health authorities are fully prepared, alerting their citizens and enacting travel restrictions to affected areas.
To date, there have been 172 deaths reported outside mainland China, raising the global death toll to 3,115.
Several nations that have seen cases are putting in place measures to limit the spread of the virus by closing schools, encouraging remote work and canceling or scaling back public events, just to name a few.
The WHO has so far held off on classifying the incident as a global pandemic, but has warned of its possibility in the near future.
“We have never before seen a respiratory pathogen that is capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained with the right measures,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the global health watchdog.
Investors are also bracing for the possibility that the spread of COVID-19, as the virus is formally known, could throw the global economy into recession. Its spread in China, the world’s second-biggest economy and a major manufacturer, was followed by factory closures that severely impacted global supply chains.
At least 80,151 cases have been identified in mainland China to date, killing 2,943 people.
Also, the United States has seen an uptick in cases, with more than 100 infections now identified after a surge of new patients in Washington state, where six people have been killed. Four of the people who died were residents of a nursing care facility in Kirkland, in suburban Seattle, eliciting concerns that the virus may have spread within Washington in recent days or weeks. Washington remains the only state in the US where the spread of the virus has resulted in fatalities.
The new cases have prompted private companies to take their own proactive measures. Twitter is asking its employees to work from home, Carnival Cruise lines is changing some of its itineraries and the NBA is asking its players to avoid taking items from fans to autograph and offer strangers fist-bumps instead of high-fives.
However, Federal public health authorities have issued several calls for calm. US Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams said the government “knew this was coming.” “Caution is appropriate. Preparedness is appropriate. Panic is not,” he said.