Virus can still be beaten, too early to declare pandemic: WHO

Mon 24 Feb 2020 16:03 GMT | 20:03 Local Time

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The coronavirus outbreak can still be beaten, the World Health Organization said on Monday, insisting it was premature to declare it a pandemic even though it had the potential to reach that level, Reuters reports.

“The key message that should give all countries hope, courage and confidence are that this virus can be contained, indeed there are many countries that have done exactly that,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva.

“Using the word ‘pandemic’ now does not fit the facts but may certainly cause fear,” he added as the number of cases continued to mount internationally and financial markets spun lower.

“We must focus on containment while doing everything we can to prepare for a potential pandemic.”

Tedros said a sudden increase in cases in Italy, Iran and South Korea were “deeply concerning” but for now authorities were not seeing an uncontained global spread of the virus or witnessing widespread serious cases or deaths.

The WHO already declared a public health emergency of international concern, its “highest level of alarm”, last month when there were fewer than 100 cases outside China and 8 cases of human-to-human transmission of the COVID-19 virus that started in China.

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