WHO Tells Countries: Get Ready

Bruce Aylward, team leader of the WHO and China joint mission on COVID-19, at a WHO press conference in Geneva February 25, 2020. Image: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty
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Bruce Aylward, team leader of the WHO and China joint mission on COVID-19, at a WHO press conference in Geneva February 25, 2020. Image: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty

The WHO warned countries yesterday to brace for the new coronavirus to be ‘knocking at the door,’ CNBC reports.

But they’re not ready, says Canadian epidemiologist Bruce Aylward, who led a WHO COVID-19 mission to China, the Globe and Mail reports.

Countries need to make sure hospitals have enough beds and ventilators, and prepare to quarantine large numbers of people, Aylward says. 

Given the 80,000 cases and 2,200 deaths, per AP, the public health response may need to be adjusted, Science reports. Travel restrictions are looking less feasible and effective than measures like closing schools, boosting hospitals, or “even imposing the kind of draconian quarantine imposed on huge cities in China.”

However, Jennifer Nuzzo, with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, has questioned the value of quarantines and travel restrictions, in a recent GHN COVID-19 Reality Check. 

Nancy Messonnier, who leads the CDC’s COVID-19 response, warned Americans that it looks like “this is going to be bad,” and to expect some disruption to everyday life.

For the latest numbers, the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University is tracking the COVID-19 spread in real-time.

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