The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Friday that it has raised to “very high”, its highest degree, the level of threat linked to the new coronavirus, which has infected some 79,000 people in China and more than 5,000 in the rest of the world.
“The continued increase in the number of cases, and the number of countries affected in recent days is clearly of concern,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at a press conference.
“Our epidemiologists have followed these developments continuously and we have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and impact of Covid-19 to a very high level globally”, its highest level, he said. he adds.
He also said that more than 20 vaccines are being developed worldwide and several therapeutic products are undergoing clinical trials. The first results are expected in “a few weeks”, he detailed.
If China was until recently the only global center of coronavirus, the risk has increased with the emergence of new source countries such as South Korea, Iran, and Italy. Fifty countries are now affected, according to WHO.
In China, where the epidemic started in late December, the virus killed 2,791 people. In the rest of the world, 67 people have died, according to the specialized agency of the UN.
“”What we are currently seeing are epidemics linked to Covid-19 in several countries, but most of the cases can still be attributed to known contacts or to groups of cases,” noted the head of the WHO.
“The key to containing this coronavirus is to break the chains of transmission,” he said.
Although the WHO has raised the level of the threat internationally, the organization does not consider it to be a pandemic.
A pandemic is a situation in which “all citizens are exposed”, which is currently not the case, WHO Director of Emergency Programs, Dr. Michael Ryan, told reporters.
“If this were an influenza epidemic, we would have spoken of a pandemic”, but in the case of the new coronavirus, “we have found that with containment measures, the course of the epidemic can be arrested significantly, “he said.