Story at a glance

  • World Health Organization officials said spread could be stopped with early, aggressive measures.
  • Health officials said their greatest concerns were in South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan. South Korea reported 4,200 cases and 22 deaths.
  • Nearly 90 cases have been confirmed in the U.S.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday that containment of the novel coronavirus is “feasible” and is a “top priority,” as more than 3,000 people globally have died from the outbreak and nearly 90,000 have been infected. 

“We are in uncharted territory,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday during a press conference in Geneva. “We have never before seen a respiratory pathogen that is capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained with the right measures.” 

Tedros said with early and “aggressive” measures, countries have the capability to stop transmission and save lives. 

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WHO officials said its greatest concerns were in South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan, as almost nine times as many coronavirus cases were reported outside China as inside, but Tedros said the spread could be stopped. 

“If this was an influenza epidemic, we would have expected to see widespread community transmission across the globe by now and efforts to slow it down or contain it would not be feasible,” Tedros said. 

Of the more than 8,700 cases reported by 61 countries outside China, 81 percent are in just four countries. Among the other 57 affected countries, 38 have reported 10 cases or less, 19 have reported only one case, and “a good number have already contained the virus” and reported no cases in the past two weeks, Tedros said. 

In the U.S., the Washington Post reports a total of six people have died from coronavirus in Washington state. There are nearly 90 confirmed cases in the U.S. so far.

Published on Mar 02, 2020