WHO still won’t call coronavirus a pandemic | COVID-19 news roundup
“I also agree that the situation could be worse than what we have now, and it could be at pandemic level,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“But what at the same time we are saying is there are countries that with this situation that have shown that it can be contained so we should not give up.”
Media outlets take a look at the global response to the coronavirus outbreak
The epidemic of COVID-19 coronavirus infection spreading around the world can be contained and controlled, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday, but only with a concerted response by all governments. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus voiced concerns at the growing number of countries with cases, especially those with weaker health systems and called on governments to harness all ministries to tackle the virus. (Nebehay and Kelland, 3/5)
Across the West, there was a sense of déjà vu as the virus’ spread prompted scenes that already played out in Asia, with workers foregoing offices, vigorous sanitizing in public places and runs on household basics. Even the spectacle of a cruise ship ordered to stay at sea off the California coast over virus fears replicated ones weeks ago on the other side of the globe. “The Western world is now following some of China’s playbook,” said Chris Beauchamp, a market analyst at the financial firm IG. Signs of the virus’ shift away from its origins in China were becoming clearer each day. (Sedensky, 3/6)
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) today said some countries are depending on their health ministry to shoulder the battle against COVID-19 and that a whole-of-government approach is needed, as the novel coronavirus spreads to more countries and fuels hot spots across multiple continents. New cases piled up again today at a brisk pace in three hard-hit countries—Iran, Italy, and South Korea. (Schnirring, 3/5)
When the coronavirus epidemic began its relentless march around the world, China’s diplomats reacted harshly toward countries that shut their borders, canceled flights or otherwise restricted travel. Italy was overreacting when it did so, Qin Gang, a vice minister of foreign affairs, told his counterpart in February. The United States was stoking fear and panic, a spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said. “True feeling shines through in hardship,” she said back then. (Myers, 3/6)
As new coronavirus cases track downward in China, it is looking to burnish its credentials as a responsible power by sharing expertise and equipment with countries seeing a surge in cases and to repair an international image dented by the disease. China’s diplomats have fanned out to deliver a message that it can control the outbreak and to call on countries to ease travel bans on Chinese people. They have given more than 400 media interviews and published more than 300 articles, according to the foreign ministry. (Zhai and Wu, 3/6)
Ventilators in short supply. Intensive care beds already overflowing. Some health workers buying their own face masks or hoods. And if cases of the deadly coronavirus surge in anything like the numbers some experts have predicted, doctors say they would have to consider denying lifesaving care to the frailest patients to prioritize those with better chances of surviving. “If we haven’t got ventilatory support to offer them, it’s going to end in death,” said Dr. George Priestley, an intensive care doctor and anesthesiologist in Yorkshire in northern England. “I don’t want to be alarmist. I just want someone to pay attention.” (Mueller, 3/5)
It is the option that nobody in the Olympic movement wants to talk about, but it is the one staring everyone in the face: a Tokyo Games this summer with no fans, just 10,000 athletes competing in front of seas of empty seats. As the coronavirus continues to spread, with more than 3,000 deaths and 90,000 documented cases worldwide, sporting events without fans are edging toward becoming a kind of new normal. Fans were barred from attending the International Biathlon Union’s World Cup event in the Czech Republic that began on Thursday. (Futterman, Panja and Keh, 3/5)
With the number of coronavirus cases in North America expected to climb, perhaps steeply, professional and amateur sports are already weighing the pros and cons of whether games and tournaments should continue as scheduled, or whether to shut down arenas and stadiums and have teams play in front empty seats. Such “social distancing” is already being instituted in some places across Europe, Asia, and Africa for sporting events, concerts, and other public gatherings, and it’s part of the debate over whether the Tokyo Summer Olympics should take place as scheduled. (Silverman, 3/5)
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has ballooned after emerging at the end of last year. According to World Health Organization figures, the majority of these cases are in mainland China, with Italy, Iran and South Korea emerging as the countries with the next largest number of confirmed cases. (Vinopal and McGrew, 3/5)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.