Published: Sat, February 22, 2020
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

World must act fast to contain coronavirus, says WHO chief Tedros

World must act fast to contain coronavirus, says WHO chief Tedros

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has for weeks insisted the low number of cases of COVID-19 outside the epicentre of the deadly outbreak in China's central Hubei province presented a "window of opportunity" to contain the worldwide spread.

The death toll in China's Hubei province reached 2,250, with a total of 63,454 people infected.

"The window of opportunity is still there".

"We must not look back and regret that we failed to take advantage of the window of opportunity we have", he said.

This comes following Iran's announcement of two more deaths, bringing the total there to four.

South Korea Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun started a government meeting on the health emergency by saying, "We have entered an emergency phase".

Researchers found that countries such as Singapore, Finland, Nepal, Belgium, Sweden, India, Sri Lanka, and Canada, have been more effective in their virus detection efforts.

On Friday, South Korean health officials reported a dramatic jump in cases of COVID-19, as the disease is officially known.

The first case in Daegu was reported on Tuesday. By Friday, the city and its surrounding areas had 152, including South Korea's first two fatalities from COVID-19.

A man wearing a face mask walks through a public park in Beijing Friday Feb. 21 2020. China reported a further fall in new virus cases to 889 on Friday as health officials expressed optimism over containment of the outbreak that has caused more than 2

Nationwide, the numbers told of a ballooning problem. There were 20 new cases reported Wednesday, 53 on Thursday and 100 on Friday.

China's senior Communist Party officials continued to urge caution and said that they've yet to see a turning point in the outbreak. In the capital Seoul, officials closed a major park and banned large public gatherings downtown, as workers in protective gear sprayed disinfectant around the city's subways.

After the adjustment, the number of new cases confirmed nationwide was 394, the National Health Commission said. Another 200 prisoners tested positive for the virus in Shandong Province, and dozens more were confirmed in Shilifen prisoners in Zhejiang Province. Both had made recent visits to Daegu, officials said.

Shanghai Ballet dancers wearing masks practice in a dance studio in Shanghai, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

"As we observed in other epidemics, it's not unusual to count things in different ways as an epidemic evolves", World Health Organization official Sylvie Briand said of the change. After taking into account these countries' air traffic from China, they appear to have detected relatively more cases of the virus carried by people from mainland China, the researchers said.

Authorities on Friday said the new coronavirus has infected about 500 people in China's prisons, nearly half outside the province at the centre of the epidemic. He also voiced concern about the potential spread of the virus in China's Shandong province, near Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak.

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday that of 329 Americans evacuated from the ship, 18 have tested positive for the virus.

Sedensky reported from Bangkok. The spread of the virus is causing countries to implement strict screening procedures.

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