WHO says risk of coronavirus spread is ''very high at a global level''

March 8, 2020

SANAA, March 8 (Saba) -The World Health Organization has announced the coronavirus outbreak has reached the “highest level” of risk for the world.

Coronavirus was first detected in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. It's since spread to every continent except Antarctica.

“This thing can go in any direction. We’re not undermining the risk, it’s there. That’s why today we said the global risk is very high. We increased it from high to very high,” Tedros Adhanom .Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said during a press briefing in Geneva

Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote an op-ed in the New England Journal of Medicine calling the coronavirus a 'once-in-a-century pandemic' and urged leaders to both 'solve the immediate problem and keep it from happening again.'

“We are on the highest level of alert, on the highest level of risk assessment in terms of spread and in terms of impact, but that is not in order to alarm or scare people,” Ryan said. “We can avoid the worst of this but our level of concern is at its highest.”

We need to save lives now while also improving the way we respond to outbreaks in general,' Gates wrote.

Gates went on to write that larger, more developed countries should help their own citizens in responding to pandemics, but also assist 'low- and middle-income countries' in preparing for them.

'By helping African and South Asian countries get ready now, we can save lives and slow the global circulation of the virus,' Gates wrote.

The Port of Los Angeles has canceled 40 vessel calls and estimated it has experienced a 25% drop in overall volumes this month, Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield told CNN.

The Port of Los Angeles is one of the world’s busiest seaports and the leading gateway for international trade in the Western Hemisphere, according to the port’s website.

The cancellations, which cover scheduled vessel calls between February 11 and April 1, represent about 25% of the port’s normal vessel calls during the time frame, Sanfield said.

The 25% decrease in overall volumes this month compared to February of last year is “largely due to coronavirus,” Sanfield said. He explained that trade war is a factor, but coronavirus is the main reason.

The port estimates an overall decrease for the first quarter of 2020 of about 15% compared to 2019, Sanfield added.

“The availability to test at California’s public health laboratories is a significant step forward in our ability to respond rapidly to this evolving situation,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, CDPH director.

“As we face the likelihood of community transmission here in California, having this resource where we need it, is essential to better inform public health response and protect our communities,' Angell said.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the 'new testing protocols and resources will help California medical experts identify and treat' coronavirus. It will also help trace potential exposures and better protect the public's health, he said.

“I am grateful to the CDC and federal government for quickly heeding our state’s requests and assisting California’s response to this evolving situation,” Newsom added.

This new case indicates that there is evidence of community transmission, but the extent is still not clear,' said Dr. Sara Cody, the director of the county's health department. 'I understand this may be concerning to hear, but this is what we have been preparing for. Now we need to start taking additional actions to slow down the spread of the disease.'

There are now 63 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States.

Central banks around the world are closely monitoring the novel coronavirus outbreak, and investors believe they will step in to keep the world's economies humming.

'The coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity,' Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in a statement. He added that the Fed is 'closely monitoring developments and their implications for the economic outlook.'

A woman in Baghdad tested positive for coronavirus after returning from Iran, bringing the total cases in Iraq to eight, the Iraqi Health Ministry said in a statement .

At least 34 people in Iran have died from coronavirus. There are at least 388 confirmed cases, according to Iran’s health ministry.

The very last group that wanted to cancel a trade show right now is the travel industry, which is already scrambling to deal with the disruptions in travel due to the coronavirus.

'The fact that the largest global travel show is being canceled right now is telling,' said Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, a leading research firm in the sector.

Many readers have asked when they should begin reconsidering their travel plans as coronavirus fears intensify.

Tariro Mzezewa, a travel reporter for the New York Times, said the situation is still so fluid — so it's impossible to predict what kind of travel advisories might exist weeks or months from now.

'I think if your trip is a few months away, you're okay. This is a really fluid situation. Things are changing not even weekly, but day-to-day things are changing, so if you've got a trip at the end of April, give it a little bit more time and see how the situation evolves,' she said.

Tourists wearing protective masks visit Venice on February 25, during the usual period of the Carnival festivities which have been cancelled following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus in northern Italy. Andrea Pattaro/AFP/Getty Images

With new cases of novel coronavirus reported daily in countries across the globe, many of you have asked if you should cancel or postpone existing plans and hold off on booking new trips.

Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all answer.

13% of Americans have already changed travel plans due to coronavirus, survey says.From CNN Business' Chris Isidore

About one American in eight surveyed says they have already canceled or changed travel plans due to concerns about the novel coronavirus.

The survey was conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and polled about 1,200 adults.

It found that there were high awareness of the disease with 97% of those surveyed saying they have followed at least some news about the outbreak, and 56% saying they knew a lot about the disease. And 55% also said they are somewhat or very concerned that there will be a widespread outbreak in the United States.

The survey also found that 13% say their level of concern is enough for them to have changed or canceled travel plans already — although it does not specify whether those travel plans were domestic or overseas. Another 9% said they are already bought or worn a protective mask.

The survey was conducted between Feb. 12 and 18 by Kaiser, a nonprofit foundation focused on health policy issues.

A total of 285 individuals from the Diamond Princess are currently under quarantine in the United States, according to the update.

The 15 US cases include nine in California, one in Massachusetts, one in Washington state, one in Arizona, two in Illinois and one in Wisconsin. Among these cases, there are two instances of person-to-person transmission, one in Illinois and one in California.

The latest case in California did not have any relevant travel history or known contact with another infected person, suggesting it could be the first instance of 'community spread' of the virus in the United States, according to health officials.

The World Health Organization has been monitoring the impact of the novel coronavirus on the global supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, said during a press briefing, and it is concerned.

The World Health Organization recommends staying at least 3 feet (or 1 meter) away from anyone who may be infected.

If you're the one feeling sick, cover your entire mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. But don't use your hands. Use either your bent elbow or a tissue that you throw away immediately afterward.

While the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend N95 respirator masks for the general public, it does recommend them for health care workers.

The best way to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus is washing your hands — thoroughly — with soap and water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are dozens of coronavirus vaccines in development and being studied across the globe, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said during a press briefing in Geneva on Friday.

Tedros said that work is “progressing” on the development of vaccines and therapeutics.

“More than 20 vaccines are in development globally, and several therapeutics are in clinical trials. We expect the first results in a few weeks,” Tedros said.

In the meantime, Tedros added that to protect yourself from illness make sure to wash your hands and clean surfaces regularly with disinfectant, among other healthy habits.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said WHO epidemiologists have been monitoring developments in global coronavirus cases and “we have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of Covid-19 to very high at a global level.”

Most cases of the disease caused by the coronavirus can still be traced to known contacts or clusters of cases, he said, and WHO does not see evidence as of yet that the virus is spreading freely.

“As long as that’s the case, we still have a chance of containing this virus,” Tedros said.