WHO Reports More New COVID-19 Cases Outside China Than Inside, but ‘Fight Can Be Won’
Feb. 26, 2020 (EIRNS)—In a press conference in Geneva this morning, World Health Organization Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reported that for the first time, the number of new COVID-19 cases outside of China yesterday exceeded those inside the country. As WHO epidemiologist Dr. Brian Aylward found during his recent trip to China, the virus has “plateaued,” and containment measures have been largely successful. Outside of China, there are now a total of 2,918 cases across 37 countries, including 43 deaths as of this morning.
Inside China, the Washington Post reported, a demographic study by Chinese scientists shows very strong age-dependency. A study of the mortality rate of 45,000 people infected through Feb. 11 showed that the highest mortality rate occurred among those over age 80; as ages declined, so did the mortality rate.
Dr. Tedros cautioned, however, that this is no time for complacency; continued vigilance is necessary. Emphasizing that the key message should be that containment is possible, he pointed out that many countries have succeeded in doing that. And, he added, the best way to protect countries that are vulnerable is by “doing our utmost to contain epidemics in countries with the capacity to do it.” He also underscored that there’s no reason to push for a pandemic declaration “without a careful and clear-minded analysis of the facts.”
Using the word pandemic carelessly, he said,
“may also signal that we can no longer contain the virus, which is not true. We are in a fight that can be won if we do the right things.... I am not downplaying the seriousness of the situation, or the potential for this to become a pandemic ...[but] the primary objective of all countries with cases must be to contain the virus.”
A number of “worrisome” situations exist, he said, such as in Italy (total cases 322) Iran (total cases 95), South Korea (total cases 1,261) and parts of Europe. A joint delegation of the WHO and the European Center for Disease Prevention arrived in Rome yesterday to review public health measures put in place and offer technical support. Cases in some Arab nations—Bahrain, Iraq, Oman and Kuwait—have been linked to Iran, which has reported 95 cases and 15 deaths. A WHO delegation will travel to Tehran this weekend to provide support.
In Europe, France, Spain, Croatia, Austria, Switzerland have all reported new cases as of this morning. The first COVID-19 case in Latin America has appeared in Sao Paulo, Brazil; authorities are tracking 20 suspected cases in that country.