The Coming Epidemic of Coronavirus

WHO Director General Chan and Bill Gates Lead Discussion on Polio at WHAWHO Director General Chan and Bill Gates (cc photo by United States Mission Geneva)

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan’s statement from the sixty-sixth World Health Assembly:

Addressing participants at the closing ceremony, WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan thanked delegates for their efficiency and productivity during the debates. At the same time, she sounded an alarm on a new threat that she warned requires urgent international attention.

“Looking at the overall global situation, my greatest concern right now is the novel coronavirus. We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat. Any new disease that is emerging faster than our understanding is never under control,” Dr Chan said. “These are alarm bells and we must respond. The novel coronavirus is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself. The novel coronavirus is a threat to the entire world.”

Over at NPR, Scott Hensley notes the location where the disease seems to be originating from:

All the cases reported so far have a link to the Middle East — the people either lived there, had traveled there, or were in close contact with an infected person who’d been there.
Now, there’s a report in The Lancet that two people in France fell ill with the virus, too. A 64-year-old man who had visited Dubai in April was hospitalized in northern France later that month. A second man, who hadn’t traveled abroad recently, shared a hospital room with the first patient for a few days in late April. At the time, the doctors didn’t suspect the first man was infected with MERS-CoV.

And Michael Smith at MedPage finds that despite the threat, the disease is not so easily spread:

The novel coronavirus emerging from the Middle East can be transmitted between people, but not easily, according to reports in two separate journals.

The incubation period for infection may also be longer than expected — up to 12 days — and samples from the lower respiratory tract may be needed to identify the pathogen.

The new virus — now officially named Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, or MERS-CoV — infected four members of a large Saudi Arabian family late last year, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

But another 24 members of the family who lived in the same building, including some who cared for the patients before hospital admission, were not affected, reported Ziad Memish at the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Mass Gathering Medicine in Riyadh, and colleagues.
There have also been no cases among healthcare workers who looked after the patients while in hospital, Memish and colleagues reported.

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