Covid-19 is defining global health crisis of our time, WHO warns, as more deaths & cases reported in rest of world than in China

16 Mar, 2020 16:24 / Updated 4 years ago

The coronavirus pandemic is the “defining global health crisis of our time,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, as the agency revealed that confirmed cases around the world have surpassed those within China.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the containment strategy spearheaded by China, South Korea and Singapore has shown results in helping to cut down the level of coronavirus cases.

As well as commending containment efforts in those Asian nations, WHO experts also emphasized the importance of increasing testing on a wider scale internationally, and warned that outbreaks are not uniform in all countries – meaning that in some places, health authorities may need to move people around to better handle the situation as it develops.

The agency’s remarks come as more countries around the world close their borders or curtail incoming travel from certain areas more severely afflicted by the deadly virus.

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“This virus is new and there are many things we don’t know about,” Tedros said during Monday's briefing, “so even rich countries should expect surprises.” 

“The health system in high-income countries is lean and mean,” he added, and when an emergency like Covid-19 arises, "expanding to accommodate the new norm is very difficult” for them, which is why some countries have struggled with the virus.

The virus first surfaced in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 before spreading worldwide within mere months. Italy is currently the worst affected country outside of China, with over 1,800 deaths.

On Sunday, Italy hit a new daily record of 368 deaths in 24 hours from the virus – higher even than occurred in China during the peak of the outbreak there.

As health systems in myriad countries struggle to treat coronavirus cases and prevent its further spread, some people are refusing to treat the global pandemic with any sense of gravity,  instead using it as a ploy to garner attention online. One TikTok user started a ‘coronavirus challenge’ on social media by licking a toilet seat on an airplane to show her lack of concern over Covid-19.

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