Beware! novel coronavirus stats may go up

New Delhi, Feb 18, 2020-

Even as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has observed a decline in the number of cases of COVID-19 in China, the stats of cases of novel coronavirus may shoot up.

WHO will be reporting all confirmed cases from now. This includes both laboratory and clinically diagnosed. Earlier the world Health Body was reporting only those cases which were laboratory confirmed. Consequently this will result in an increase in the number of confirmed cases.

In a statement released by the WHO, it said: “From today (Monday), WHO will be reporting all confirmed cases, including both laboratory-confirmed as previously reported, and those reported as clinically diagnosed (currently only applicable to Hubei province, China). From February 13 to 16, we reported only laboratory confirmed cases for Hubei province as mentioned in the situation report published on February 13. This accounts for the apparent large increase in cases compared to prior situation reports”

The world health body has developed a protocol for the investigation of early cases. The protocol is designed to gain an early understanding of the key clinical, epidemiological and virological characteristics of the first cases of COVID-19 infection detected in any individual country, to inform the development and updating of public health guidance to manage cases and reduce potential spread and impact of infection.

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The WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, while addressing a press conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva on Monday, said that a detailed paper released by China on more than 40,000 confirmed cases provided an insight into the age range of infections, disease severity and mortality rates.

He also said, “As more data comes in from China, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of the outbreak, how it’s developing & where it could be headed.”

The WHO Chief said the data showed a decline in the number of cases. However he also said that “this trend must be interpreted very cautiously. Trends can change as new population gets affected.”

The WHO has observed that the novel coronavirus is not as deadly as other coronaviruses including SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).

“Only in 2% of cases this virus is fatal. The risk of death increases in elders. We see relatively few cases in children.”

According to the WHO, the number of confirmed cases globally as on Tuesday are 71,429 including 2,162 while new confirmed cases from China are reported to be 70,635 (2,051 new) and 1,772 deaths (106 new). Number of confirmed cases outside China are 794 this included 111 new cases, in 25 countries and three deaths. WHO risk assessment in China stands at very high and at high on global level.

When asked if the disease could be categorised as a pandemic, Dr Michael Ryan, the WHO’s director of emergencies, said that “outbreak should not be described as a pandemic, even though it has spread to 25 countries outside China. The real issue is whether we are seeing efficient community transmission outside of China and at the present time we are not observing that.”  (Agency)

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