- “The continued increase in the number of cases and the number of affected countries over the last few days are clearly of concern.”
- The WHO Secretary-General states that there is no evidence yet that the virus is "spreading freely in communities."
- Africa's most populous country, Nigeria, has detected the first case of coronavirus.
The World Health Organization has raised its assessment of the risk of spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus to “very high.” This happened after a development where Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Nigeria are the latest among 49 countries that have detected cases of the virus within two weeks.
“The continued increase in the number of cases and the number of affected countries over the last few days are clearly of concern,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO, at a press conference in Geneva. “Our epidemiologists have been monitoring these developments continuously and we have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of COVID-19 to very high at global level.”
This means that the WHO adapts the new assessment in its technical and operational guidance to the individual country.
“We See Linked Epidemics”
Recent reports from China show that 78,959 in the country of origin of the virus have been diagnosed with the infection, while 2,791 have died as a result of the virus. Outside of China, there are now 49 countries on the list, with a total number of 4,351 infected and 79 deaths.
No “Free Spread” Yet
At the same time, the WHO Secretary-General states that there is no evidence yet that the virus is “spreading freely in communities.” As long as that is the case, there is still a chance to contain the virus if the chain of infection is broken. It requires that action be taken to establish early cases of infection and to isolate and treat the infected and to trace their contact circles.
Despite the increasing prevalence of the coronavirus, the World Health Organization is refusing to call the virus a worldwide pandemic. “If we say there’s a pandemic of coronavirus, we’re essentially accepting that every human on the planet will be exposed,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s Emergency Health Programme. “The data does not support that as yet and China has clearly shown that that’s not necessarily the natural outcome of this event if we take action.
Coronavirus in Nigeria
Elsewhere, Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, has detected the first case of coronavirus. It is an Italian man who flew from Milan on February 25 to the port city of Lagos that was detected with the virus. The man was immediately quarantined, and he is undergoing treatment at a hospital in Lagos. The authorities are now trying to prevent the virus from spreading in the city with up to 20 million inhabitants.
Health experts say that, owing to the fact that Lagos is one of the world’s largest cities, the detection of the virus therein is undoubtedly a big challenge. Thus, all efforts ought to be employed to ensure that it doesn’t spread further. Another worry by health experts is the fact that many African countries lack advanced health facilities to handle the outbreak. Moreover, they are ill-equipped for an epidemic of the coronavirus magnitude.