Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters
As the spread of the novel coronavirus grinds to a near-halt in China, the virus continues spreading fast around the rest of the globe.
“Now that the coronavirus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.
On that day alone, European countries tallied up 2,793 new cases of the virus, which can prompt a cough, fever, difficulty breathing, and in severe cases death. The severity of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, varies widely with age: the virus kills 15% of infected people over 80, but just 0.2% of people under 39.
The bulk of new cases were diagnosed and reported on Monday in Italy (1,492), Iran (743), France (410), Germany (317), and South Korea (248), according to the WHO. In China, where the virus originated, transmission appears to have slowed dramatically: 45 new cases were confirmed Monday.
Bruce Aylward, who led a team of international public health experts through China in February, has said before that the rest of the world is “simply not ready” to fight COVID-19, but that far more could be done to contain, track, test, and treat cases.
Prepping “hundreds” of hospital beds and ventilators and enlisting thousands of public-health workers are some of the most crucial “really practical things you can do to be ready,” Aylward said.
Washing your hands and avoiding touching your face is also the number one way individuals can prevent new infections from spreading further and sickening more people.
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