‘The world is not ready’: Odds of a pandemic have doubled to 40 percent as WHO raises global coronavirus threat level to ‘very high’ and warns at-risk people who are over 65 or sick to avoid crowds

Friday, February 28, 2020
By Paul Martin

The World Health Organization said Friday that the threat of the coronavirus’s impact and spread is now ‘very high’ worldwide
It’s the group’s highest risk level and comes as the virus spreads to more than 50 countries worldwide, sickening more than 83,000 people
So far, nearly 2,900 people have died and several countries reported their first cases this week
WHO officials said that there is a worldwide strain on protective gear and masks supplies
Strategy has shifted form containment to mitigation in some countries
Officials said that health systems around the world are ‘not ready’ to handle the outbreak
They stopped short of labeling coronavirus a pandemic but said if it was flu, it would be considered at pandemic levels
People anywhere with underlying conditions or who are over 65 are at risk of the virus, and might consider avoiding crowds, officials said
A Moody’s Analytics report estimated that the odds of a coronavirus pandemic have now doubled to 40%

28 February 2020

The risk of coronavirus is now ‘very high’ worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Friday.

Even ‘quite sophisticated countries…are having quite a bit of trouble’ containing its spread, said Dr Mike Ryan, who heads up the WHO’s emergency response efforts said during the press briefing.

Of the world’s 195 countries, at least 53 have reported cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19, which has now sickened more than 83,000 people worldwide and killed nearly 2,900 globally.

The international agency hasn’t quite given up on containing the virus, but is deeply concerned by the rapid spread of infections in places like Italy, in spite of its well-developed health system.

Officials warned global citizens who are over 65 or have underlying health conditions that they are at risk for COVID-19, and even suggested they might avoid crowded places.

Moody’s Analytics Friday estimated that the risk of a global coronavirus pandemic has now doubled, to 40 percent, yet the WHO has continued to decline to label the outbreak that, instead calling it a series of ‘linked epidemics.’

The WHO has by and large tried to quell panic and advise against personal measures that would disrupt daily life.

But the world’s top doctors are starting to shift their tone.

The WHO is still refusing to call the outbreak a pandemic, but just barely.

‘If this was influenza, we would probably have called it a pandemic by now,’ said Dr Ryan.

‘But with this virus…its course can be altered.’

Or, at least it can be in some countries. WHO officials said that it’s ‘unhelpful’ to call the outbreak a pandemic – instead referring to it as a series of ‘linked epidemics’ – but said that in some places they’re beginning to shift strategies from containment to mitigation.

In other words, there’s no use trying to stop its spread in places like China, and it’s now time to try to better manage the onslaught of infections by bolstering hospitals and advancing research efforts for vaccines and treatments.

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