World in uncharted territory - WHO | Daily News


 

World in uncharted territory - WHO

South Korea’s COVID-19 cases approach 5,000 :
Tourists take pictures next to commuters with facemasks, worn amid fears of the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, as they wait for a canal boat in Bangkok on Monday. - AFP
Tourists take pictures next to commuters with facemasks, worn amid fears of the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, as they wait for a canal boat in Bangkok on Monday. - AFP

CHINA: The world has entered uncharted territory in its battle against the deadly coronavirus, the UN health agency warned, as new infections dropped dramatically in China on Tuesday but surged abroad with the US death toll rising to six.

Globally, the virus has killed more than 3,100 people and infected over 90,000 even as a clear shift in the crisis emerges, with nine times as many cases recorded outside China as inside, according to the World Health Organization.

While Italy has locked down towns, other countries have stopped short of enacting mass quarantines and instead have discouraged large gatherings, delayed sporting events and banned arrivals from virus-hit nations.

South Korea, Iran and Italy have emerged as major spawning grounds for the novel coronavirus, which is believed to have originated at a market that sold wild animals in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

“We are in uncharted territory,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

“We have never before seen a respiratory pathogen that is capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained with the right measures.”

South Korea’s coronavirus case total -- the largest in the world outside China -- approached 5,000 Tuesday as authorities reported 477 new cases.

Two more people had died, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, taking the toll to 28.

South Korea has seen a rapid rise in infections in recent days as authorities carry out checks on more than 260,000 people associated with the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a religious group often condemned as a cult that is linked to more than half the cases.

Scores of events -- from K-pop concerts to sports seasons -- have been cancelled or postponed over the contagion, with school and kindergarten breaks extended by three weeks nationwide.

The United States is now facing a potential epidemic, with six people dying in the northwestern state of Washington, where officials warned residents the battle against the disease was shifting from containment to mitigation.

“The risk for all of us of becoming infected will be increasing,” said Jeff Duchin, a health officer in King County where five of the deaths occurred.

The district is home to Seattle, a city with a population of more than 700,000 people.

The White House, which has been accused of downplaying the threat from the virus, continued to strike a bullish tone.

Vice President Mike Pence declared that a treatment “could literally be available by this summer, or early fall.”

He was likely referring to remdesivir, an antiviral drug developed by the pharmaceutical firm Gilead that has already been used to treat one US patient and was moving toward two expansive final stage trials in Asia.

Pence also announced American pharmaceuticals were teaming up in a consortium to fight the virus, and said that South Korea and Italy, two of the hardest-hit nations, would screen all their airline passengers bound for the US.

Despite its world-class hospitals and cutting edge research, the US is viewed as vulnerable to an epidemic because of glaring disparities in its health care system, including nearly 28 million people without coverage.

China reported 125 new cases on Tuesday, its lowest daily increase in six weeks, with all but 11 infections in Wuhan’s central Hubei province.

In Italy, tourist hotpots including the Duomo in Milan reopened to visitors but access was limited to avoid overcrowding in a bid to contain the virus.

Italy, Europe’s worst-affected country with around 1,700 infections, said Monday its deaths from the virus had jumped 18 to 52. - AFP


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