Spread of coronavirus confirms WHO fears, say experts
Market workers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant at a market in the southeastern city of Daegu on February 23, 2020 as a preventive measure after the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. South Korea reported two additional deaths from coronavirus and 123 more cases on February 23, with nearly two thirds of the new patients connected to a religious sect. The national toll of 556 cases is now the second-highest outside of China.
AFP/Yonhap
Spread of coronavirus confirms WHO fears, say experts
Stéphane Orjollet (Agence France-Presse) - February 24, 2020 - 8:36am

PARIS, France — The sharp rise in cases and the geographical spread of the coronavirus outside China confirm WHO fears over dealing with the crisis, experts warned Sunday as they appealed for ever greater vigilance.

"There has been a profound shift in the direction that COVID-19 (new coronavirus) is taking over the past 48 hours," said Professor Devi Sridhar, Director of the Global Health Governance Programme at the University of Edinburgh Medical School.

"The WHO and its member state governments now need to be thinking about transitioning from containment to mitigation, ie. reducing the negative impacts of continued transmission," Sridhar warned. 

On Friday, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had already sounded the alarm, saying the window to stem the virus was shrinking.

"We are still in a phase where containment is possible... our window of opportunity is narrowing," he warned, adding if countries did not quickly mobilise to counter the virus spread, matters could get "messy."

He also warned that Africa's poor health infrastructure left it vulnerable to the COVID-19 disease, which has spilled out of China to more than 25 countries.

Those fears have been compounded by three fatalities in recent days in Italy --  where some 50,000 people are in lockdown  -- eight in Iran and six in South Korea.

The WHO has expressed concern at the apparent emergence of cases without a clear epidemiological link to China, where it emerged.

'Anywhere in the world'

"It's what we call the passage to community transmission," said Professor Arnaud Fontanet, specialist in epidemiology of emerging diseases at France's Pasteur Institute.

"That renders controlling it much more difficult and presages the risk of its introduction beyond China."

Cases in both Lebanon and Canada appear to have emanated from Iran, for example, while, in Italy, scientists are puzzled that they cannot trace a link between several cases of sufferers with no apparent links to infected persons. 

"What is happening in Italy and South Korea and Iran could happen anywhere in the world," said Sridhar. 

Nathalie MacDermott, lecturer at King's College London, said "the evolving situation in South Korea, Iran and Italy is very concerning.

"There has been the expectation that some countries might develop person to person transmission of SARS-COV2 following an imported case of infection from an affected country.

"What is concerning is the lack of clear contact with such an individual in initiating clusters in these three countries, and particularly in Iran and Italy."

MacDermott urged all countries to take prompt action "to try and contain these clusters before there is dissemination to large proportions of the population."

"I think this is a new phase" in the propagation of the virus as new chains of transmission emerge from previously undetected cases, says Eric D'Ortenzio, epidemiologist at France's Inserm medical research institute.

He likewise urged increased surveillance for any potential emergence of home-grown cases as well as areas known to be already affected by the outbreak.

2019-NCOV COVID-19 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 27, 2020 - 5:24pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

September 27, 2020 - 5:24pm

An overnight curfew in Australia's second-largest city will be lifted this week, officials said Sunday, even as the global coronavirus toll inched towards one million dead.

Despite the number of infections worldwide passing 32 million — with the US state of New York reporting a fresh spike — more than 10,000 anti-lockdown protesters demonstrated in central London ahead of the re-imposition of restrictions there.

In more positive news, residents of the Chinese city of Wuhan — where the virus emerged last year — reported a hesitant return to normalcy, while the French Open got underway at Roland Garros in Paris.

In Australia, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said Melbourne residents would be free from Monday to leave their homes for work, exercise, shop for essentials, or provide care after active cases in the state fell below 400 for the first time since June 30.

The relaxation of the curfew, imposed August 2, comes after 16 new infections and two deaths were reported Sunday. — AFP

September 27, 2020 - 9:26am

France will face a months-long coronavirus epidemic that will overwhelm its health system if something does not change, one of the country's top medical figures warns Sunday.

"The second wave is arriving faster than we thought," Patrick Bouet, head of the National Council of the Order of Doctors, tells the weekly Journal du Dimanche.

Fresh restrictions to slow the spread of the disease in the country's worst-hit areas, including the Mediterranean city of Marseille and the Paris region, have run into local resistance.

Bouet told the paper that warnings delivered this week by Health Minister Olivier Veran had not gone far enough.

"He didn't say that in three to four weeks, if nothing changes, France will face a widespread outbreak across its whole territory, for several long autumn and winter months," Bouet says. — AFP

September 26, 2020 - 4:13pm

 

The Philippines surpasses the 300,000-mark, with 2,747 new COVID-19 infections registered on Saturday.

88 individuals died and 787 recovered from the deadly virus.

September 25, 2020 - 4:10pm

The Department of Health reports 2,630 new cases of the coronavirus disease, bringing the national tally to 299.361.

69 have succumbed to the deadly virus while 494 have recovered. 

September 25, 2020 - 7:14am

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 978,448 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Thursday.

At least 31,975,020 cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 21,891,500 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

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