WHO Press Conference Regarding Coronavirus, A Call For Unity
Accredited World Health Organization (WHO) journalists gathered online and on-site within the Strategic Health Operations Centre (SHOC) at 10 am Eastern Standard Time for the organizations now routinely daily briefings regarding the Coronavirus. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebrysus, WHO-Director General began the conference by addressing journalists, part of his introductory statements are below.
As usual, I’ll start with the latest numbers. As of 6 am Geneva time today, there were 40,235 confirmed cases in China, and 909 deaths. Outside China, there are 319 cases in 24 countries, with 1 death. The overall pattern has not changed. 99% of reported cases are in China, and most cases are mild. About 2% of cases are fatal – which of course is still too many. A lot of people are asking, where is the outbreak going? Is it getting better, is it getting worse? We are doing several things to answer those questions. First, the meeting on research and innovation starting tomorrow will identify some of those questions and chart a path forward. Second, an advance team of WHO experts has just arrived in China, led by Dr. Bruce Aylward, to lay the groundwork for the larger international team.
“The detection of this small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire,” Dr. Ghebreysus continued later in his opening address. “But for now, it’s only a spark. Our objective remains containment. We call on all countries to use the window of opportunity we have to prevent a bigger fire.”
Dr. Ghebreysus was joined by Dr. Sylvie Briand, Director Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness, WHO and Dr. Michael J. Ryan Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme. “The underline condition of the patient,” said Dr. Briand in response to a question concerning the future mortality rate of the Coronavirus. She would continue to say that age and the general physical condition will influence of those contracting the virus will greatly influence the overall mortality rate. “The medical system in China is sophisticated enough to provide intensive care,” said Dr. Ryan adding that due to their medical sophistication China is uniquely equipped to deal with the virus in comparison to countries that do not have the same medical advancement.
“An investigation to learn [about the Coronavirus] and support China [in dealing with the virus],” Dr. Ryan said in response to a question regarding if the WHO team on the ground is getting the necessary help from the Chinese government. “This is about increasing cooperation not establishing cooperation,” he added.
“Politicization will not help us,” said Dr. Tedros near the conclusion of the press conference. “…Common enemy, we can only defeat in unison and with unity,” he continued. Dr. Tedros reiterated that combating the needs to be done as “one humanity” without allowing ethnic and national differences to get in the way of the real issue. He also pressed that with approximately 300 international confirmed Coronavirus cases, there is a window of opportunity to prevent a true epidemic from happening.