KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — Containment of the novel coronavirus may not work, the World Health Organization (WHO) admitted, as the Covid-19 outbreak worsens around the world.
The public health agency added that there is a high chance of the world tipping into a global pandemic — a term used to describe a serious disease that is spreading in an uncontrolled way globally.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus yesterday said that Covid-19 containment is possible, but that the window of opportunity is narrowing.
“So, we need to preparing (sic) side by side for a pandemic,” CNBC quoted him as saying during a panel discussion in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“Containment works. But at the same time we cannot be sure. This thing could change direction and be worse. That’s why we prepare for the worst.”
However, Ghebreyesus again insisted that the agency does not believe the outbreak has reached the level of a pandemic, despite suggestions from experts that it has already reached that stage.
“There is a potential to be pandemic, anything can go in many directions.
“But now, from the global assessment that we have, we don’t see intensive and sustained community transmission in multiple countries; meaning, the facts on the ground don’t show that.
“But there are clusters in Iran and South Korea, Italy, that may go into community transmission. When this happens, it may qualify as a pandemic definition,” Bernama quoted him as saying.
Ghebreyesus also called for global markets to “calm down” and “try to see the reality”, even as global stocks plummeted around the world. He said people need to continue being rational and deal with the facts.
More than 3,000 people worldwide have died, and 85,000 infected by Covid-19.