February 18, 2020

We will not raise global risk level of COVID-19: WHO

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The World Health Organisation will not raise the global risk level of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) based on the large number of cases published by China.

Who Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media conference in Geneva on Monday that the number of new cases is declining.

“Today China has published a paper with detailed data on more than 44,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. This data gives us a better understanding about the age range of people affected, the severity of the disease and the mortality rate.

“As such, (the data are) very important in enabling Who to provide good evidence- based advice to countries. We encourage all countries to share their data publicly.”

The data show that more than 80 percent of the patients only have mild symptoms and 14 percent are critical ones. Besides, the mortality rate is lower than that of the diseases caused by other coronaviruses.

Michael Ryan, executive director of the Who Health Emergencies Programme, said, “The real issue here is whether we’re seeing efficient community transmission outside of China, and at the present time, we are not observing that. We have said the risk is very high in China. It’s high regionally and it’s high around the world.

“That is not ‘the risk is high of a pandemic’, the risk is high that the disease may spread further. So, therefore, I think we have to be very, very careful, not to drive fear in the world right now.”

A Who team of experts has arrived in China to conduct joint research with Chinese scientists. The officials also pointed out that using the blood plasma of cured patients to treat the viral pneumonia is worthy of further study.

Ryan added: “It has proven effective and live-saving in a number of different diseases. This (plasma) theory has been one most recently. We’re at a very important area of discovery and I believe they are starting trials of that in China, but it’s a very valid way to explore therapeutics especially when we don’t have vaccines, and we don’t have specific antivirals.”

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