Sunday, April 5, 2020
banner
Home /  World  /  Virus at ‘decisive point’ as world battles spread: WHO

Virus at ‘decisive point’ as world battles spread: WHO

Virus at ‘decisive point’ as world battles spread: WHO

AFP
Geneva
The World Health Organization declared on Thursday that the new coronavirus epidemic was at a “decisive point” as countries across the globe battled to contain the deadly outbreak.
Saudi Arabia banned pilgrims from visiting Islam’s holiest sites as the number of deaths jumped in neighbouring Iran, while Japan and Iraq ordered the closure of schools.
Alarm is growing as China is no longer the only breeding ground for COVID-19, with other countries including South Korea and Italy becoming hotbeds of infection, raising fears of a pandemic.
“We’re at a decisive point,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference in Geneva. “If you act aggressively now, you can contain this virus, you can prevent people getting sick, you can save lives.”
The virus has already killed more than 2,760 people, mostly in China -- where it first emerged in December -- and infected more than 81,000 in over 45 countries.
But there are now more daily cases being recorded outside China, raising fears that poor countries with weak health infrastructures would not be able to cope. “It’s what’s happening in the rest of the world that’s now our greatest concern,” Tedros said.
World financial markets have plunged on fears that widespread lockdowns could hamper business activity and dent global growth, while sports matches and festivals have been cancelled to try to stem infections.
The EU said it was bracing for an economic hit, with tourism already feeling the pinch and supply chains reliant on China also being affected.
And President Emmanuel Macron said France, the world’s most visited country which has recorded two deaths, was preparing for a jump in cases. “We are facing a crisis, an epidemic that is coming,” he said.
Hubei officials have been accused of initially covering up the outbreak and silencing a whistleblowing doctor who later died from the disease.
WHO’s Tedros said all countries should ensure their health systems were prepared.
“We are actually in a very delicate situation in which the outbreak can go in any direction based on how we handle it.”

Pages