As the novel coronavirus continues to spread and claim lives, the World Health Organization has a dire warning.
“We are in uncharted territory,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on March 2.
“We have never before seen a respiratory pathogen that is capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained with the right measures,” Dr. Tedros said.
Based on a March 4, 2020 situation report by WHO, cases of COVID-19, which is the name of the coronavirus, numbered 93,090 globally.
Most of the confirmed cases are in China, with 80,422.
As of March 4, a total of 2,984 deaths have been recorded in China.
Outside of China, there were 12,668 confirmed cases, and 214 deaths.
COVID-19 has been reported in 76 countries other than China.
These nations include Canada, which had 30 confirmed cases as of March 4.
WHO’s risk assessment as of March 4 for the world was “very high”.
World health officials say the mortality rate for COVID-19 is 3.4 percent globally, higher than previous estimates of about two percent.
In comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than one percent of those infected, Dr. Tedros said in a media conference at the Geneva headquarters of WHO.
Dr Tedros insisted: “We can push this virus back.”
The WHO chief said the development of the Covid-19 disease globally was not a “one-way street” and could be combated if countries acted quickly and effectively – starting with containment measures.
“There is no choice but to act now,” he said.
One of the countries worst affected outside China – Italy – on March 2 saw a jump in its death toll from 34 to 52.
South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan remain the greatest concern.
Health officials in the U.S. state of Washington said on March 2 that four more people had died, bringing the total there to six.
U.S. President Donald Trump said he had told pharmaceutical companies to accelerate work on a vaccine.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on March 4 that he has created a new Cabinet committee to tackle the new coronavirus.
In a news release, the Prime Minister’s office said the committee will “complement the work being done by the Incident Response Group” and will meet regularly to “ensure whole-of-government leadership, coordination and preparedness for a response to the health and economic impacts of the virus.”
According to the release, the committee will continue the measures already taken by the government to limit the spread of the virus.
The novel coronavirus was first detected in China’s Hubei province late last year.
In Canada, 20 cases have been reported in Ontario, nine in B.C., and one in Quebec, for a total of 30.
In the statement, Trudeau said the government is taking the spread of COVID-19 “seriously,” and the government and health officials are “working tirelessly” to keep Canadians safe.
“This new committee will continue to monitor the health and economic impacts of the virus, and make sure our response takes all possible measures to prevent and limit the spread of the virus in Canada,” he said.
According to the release, the Cabinet committee will be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, while Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos will serve as vice-chair.
In total, the committee will be comprised of eight members.