WHO raises coronavirus threat assessment to its highest level

World Health Organization officials said Friday they are increasing the risk assessment of the coronavirus, which has spread to at least 49 countries in a matter of weeks, to “very high” at a global level.

“We are on the highest level of alert or highest level of risk assessment in terms of spread and in terms of impact,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program. The group isn’t trying to alarm or scare people, he said. “This is a reality check for every government on the planet: Wake up! Get ready! This virus may be on its way and you need to be ready. You have a duty to your citizens, you have a duty to the world to be ready.”

The world can still avoid “the worst of it,” but the increased risk assessment means the WHO’s “level of concern is at its highest,” he said at a press conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

World leaders still have a chance to contain the virus within their borders, Ryan said. “To wait, to be complacent to be caught unawares at this point, it’s really not much of an excuse.”

Outside China as of Friday morning, 4,351 cases across at least 48 countries have been confirmed, including 67 deaths, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. About two dozen countries have reported only one case.

He said most cases of COVID-19 can still be traced to known contacts or clusters of cases and there isn’t any “evidence as yet that the virus is spreading freely in communities.” That’s one reason why WHO hasn’t declared the outbreak a pandemic, Tedros said.

Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Netherlands and Nigeria all reported their first cases on Thursday, Tedros said. All these cases have links to Italy, he added.

Tedros reiterated that the virus could still turn into a pandemic. He urged against fear and panic, adding, “our greatest enemy right now is not the virus itself. It’s fear, rumors and stigma.”

On Wednesday, WHO officials said the number of new COVID-19 cases outside China exceeded those inside the country for the first time. Tedros said Thursday that countries must act “swiftly” and “aggressively” to contain the virus.

“With the right measures, it can be contained,” he said at the time, adding countries should begin thinking about whether they have proper isolation units, medical supplies and other vital equipment.

COVID 19 Pandemic imminent?

With positive cases of COVID 19 Coronavirus in major countries around the world this weekend revealed what felt like a tipping point in the gravitas of the situation. Sunday 23/02/19 figures:

  • South Korea announced more than 600 confirmed infections and 5 deaths.
  • Iran confirmed 43 cases of the COVID 19 corona Virus with 8 deaths.
  • Italy confirmed 152 cases of the COVID 19 virus cases and 2 deaths.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – WHO

This explosion of cases in a short period of time comes as Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, has expressed concerned over the ‘narrowing window of opportunity’ to tackle Covid-19, and has urged the international community not to squander it.

If further outbreaks of this type continue then the WHO will most likely be forced to announce a pandemic – we feel that the situation is already pandemic not yet to be recognised for fear of economic collapse.

Venice Carnival closes as Italy imposes lock down

Italian officials have cut short the Venice Carnival as they try to control what is now the worst outbreak of the COVID 19 Coronavirus in Europe.

Italian policeman enforces travel restrictions.

Authorities in the Veneto region said the event would end later on Sunday, two days earlier than scheduled.

Italy has by far the highest number of COVID 19 coronavirus cases in Europe, with 152. Three people have died.

Italy has imposed strict quarantine restrictions in two northern “hotspot” regions close to Milan and Venice.

About 50,000 people cannot enter or leave several towns in Veneto and Lombardy for the next two weeks without special permission. Even outside the zone, many businesses and schools have suspended activities, and sporting events have been cancelled including several top-flight football matches.

China ‘appoints its top military bio-warfare expert to take over secretive virus lab in Wuhan’, sparking conspiracy theories that coronavirus outbreak is linked to Beijing’s army

China has reportedly appointed its top military biological weapon expert to take over a secretive virus laboratory in Wuhan after the outbreak of a new coronavirus, sparking conspiracy theories that the health crisis could be connected to the army.

Chen Wei, a Major General of the People’s Liberation Army, was flown in to Wuhan by the central government late last month before officially taking the helm of Wuhan Institute of Virology, according to a report.

The 54-year-old’s designation prompted some people to speculate that the epidemic could have been spawned in the little-known lab and that the lab is run by Beijing’s military.