Is the killer coronavirus now disease X? World Health Organization expert warns the infection is ‘rapidly’ fitting category for the mysterious pathogen scientists fear will kill 80million

Monday, February 24, 2020
By Paul Martin

Dr Marion Koopmans, from Erasmus University in the Netherlands, commented
She said increased global travel made the outbreak particularly challenging
Disease X is a name which refers to a future illness which spreads worldwide
Coronavirus has infected around 80,000 people and killed more than 2,600

By SAM BLANCHARD
DAILYMAIL.COM
24 February 2020

The coronavirus sweeping the planet could be the ‘Disease X’ which experts have warned about, according to a World Health Organization representative.

The name is given to a future, mysterious pathogen which could break out among humans and wreak havoc across the world.

SARS-CoV-2 has infected around 80,000 people in the two months since it emerged at an animal market in Wuhan, China in December.

It has killed more than 2,600 and can cause severe lung damage and trigger multiple organ failure, mainly among old or weak patients.

Dr Marion Koopmans, a virologist for the WHO, said: ‘Whether it will be contained or not, this outbreak is rapidly becoming the first true pandemic challenge that fits the disease X category, listed to the WHO’s priority list of diseases for which we need to prepare in our current globalized society.’

Her comments come less than six months after a report led by a former WHO official which warned a flu-like illness could kill up to 80million people if it broke out.

In other developments to the escalating outbreak today:

The World Health Organization admitted the killer coronavirus outbreak sweeping the world won’t be officially declared a pandemic
Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Iraq became the latest countries to record cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus
Italy confirmed its seventh virus death in Europe’s first major outbreak, with 11 towns in lockdown to contain the spread of the infection
South Korea now has the largest number of cases outside of mainland China, with 830 patients known to have caught the virus
Iranian officials denied a cover-up after a lawmaker claimed 50 people have died from the infection in the city of Qom alone
But the UK’s official position for Italy, South Korea or Iran has not changed, with the coronavirus threat to the British public still being ‘low’

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