WHO Official Calls On ‘Whole World’ To Be On Alert For Coronavirus; Limited Data Hindering True Understanding Of Outbreak’s Impact, Experts Say

AP: China counts 170 virus deaths, new countries find infections
“China counted 170 deaths from a new virus Thursday and more countries reported infections, including some spread locally, as foreign evacuees from China’s worst-hit region returned home to medical observation and even isolation…” (Moritsugu et al., 1/30).

Devex: Africa needs early detection of coronavirus, WHO says
“Vulnerable populations, including the poor and displaced, are at high risk of being affected by the potential spread of the coronavirus to Africa, the World Health Organization has warned. Recognizing the fact that high-density areas such as slums and displacement camps could serve as breeding grounds for the spread of the virus, WHO is helping countries prepare for a response. In doing so, it is also facing challenges such as limited laboratory capacity and existing outbreaks. The United Nations health body is focusing much of its efforts on 13 high priority countries on the continent…” (Jerving, 1/30).

STAT: Limited data may be skewing assumptions about severity of coronavirus outbreak, experts say
“Health officials in China, racing to try to contain a fast-growing coronavirus outbreak, are principally recording severe cases of disease, using a case definition that cannot capture patients with mild illness, according to experts familiar with the surveillance efforts. The approach, the experts told STAT, is likely resulting in both an underestimate in the total number of cases and flawed assumptions about fatality rates calculated by those who ignore the repeated caution that it’s too soon to do that math. The experts were quick to note that the Chinese are not willfully underreporting cases…” (Branswell, 1/30).

U.N. News: Coronavirus: First case confirmed in Gulf region, more than 6,000 worldwide
“…At a press briefing in Geneva on Wednesday, Michael Ryan, the head of the WHO health emergencies programme, said that ‘the whole world needs to be on alert now. The whole world needs to take action and be ready for any cases that come from the epicenter or other epicenter that becomes established.’ The actions of the Chinese authorities have, he said, helped to slow the international spread of the virus, but it has not been halted: ‘The continued increase in cases and the evidence of human-to human transmission outside China are of course most deeply concerning. Although the numbers outside China are still relatively small, they hold the potential for a much larger outbreak’…” (1/29).

Additional coverage of the coronavirus response in China and internationally is available from Bloomberg, DW, New York Times, NPR (2), Quartz, and Reuters.

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