Coronavirus: Still chance of preventing global crisis
Thursday, 20 February 2020
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported on Wednesday that the number of confirmed cases globally were 75 204, thereof 74 280 in China. The number of deaths in China raised to 2006. Outside China, 3 deaths have been reported.
“At the moment we don’t have enough data on cases outside China to make a meaningful comparison on the severity of disease or the case fatality rate,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“We’re following up with countries to get more information about what happens about each case and the outcome. However, we have not yet seen the sustained local transmission, except in specific circumstances like the Diamond Princess cruise ship.”
“We have now had cases of COVID-19 outside China for more than a month. We are supporting national authorities in every country that has cases to track the virus and understand how people were infected. We still have a chance of preventing a broader global crisis,” the WHO Director-General summarised his briefing.
There is still uncertainty about how to interpret the statistics on the spread of the coronavirus.
WHO reports that it is working with an international network of statisticians and mathematical modelers to estimate key epidemiologic parameters, such as the incubation period (the time between infection and symptom onset), case fatality ratio (the proportion of cases that die), and the serial interval (the time between symptom onset of a primary and secondary case).
The relative few cases outside China include the infected persons on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan. Yesterday the European Commission announced that the EU is co-financing the repatriation of EU citizens from the cruise ship thanks to flights from Italy mobilised through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
The first Italian aircrafts have already departed to Japan with an advanced medical team on board.
The medical team will evaluate the passengers and only those that have tested negative for the COVID-19 virus or do not present any symptoms of the illness will be allowed to board the flight. Final numbers and nationalities will therefore be known in the coming days. After arrival in Europe, passengers will start a new quarantine period organised and monitored by each Member State.