There’s an important “window of opportunity” to block the coronavirus outbreak—but countries need to share information openly, warned WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a technical briefing in Geneva yesterday, according to the BBC.
He praised China’s steps, but a New York Times article warns that too many of its officials worry about angering their superiors, spawning "a lack of action and a fear of action."
Tedros also warned that developed countries are failing to share information.
The virus, which has spread to 25 countries as of today, is not yet considered a pandemic, the WHO also clarified yesterday. Sylvie Briand, head of WHO’s Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness division, calls it “an epidemic with multiple foci,” The Hill reports.
Scientists are also struggling to get accurate information on fatality rates. Shortages of hospital beds in hard-hit areas of China mean milder cases are being turned away, skewing the numbers, Reuters reports.
“In an outbreak, you really have to interpret fatality rates with a very skeptical eye, because often it’s only the very severe cases that are coming to people’s attention,” said Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. He estimates the fatality rate is likely below 1%, rather than the 2% being cited.