In a press briefing on Saturday, February 8, 2020, in Geneva, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the number of new cases of the deadly coronavirus in the Hubei province of China, where the virus originated, appeared to be “stabilizing”.
"We're in a four-day stable period where the number of reported cases hasn't advanced,” Michael Ryan, head of WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, said at a briefing in Geneva, just nine days after WHO declared the coronavirus a public health emergency. “That's good news and may reflect the impact of the control measures that have been put in place."
However, he added that it was too early to make any further predictions about whether or not we have reached the peak of the virus. This sentiment was further echoed by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who said that although the number of new cases was “not really accelerating”, caution is still needed.
Since the briefing, China’s National Health Commission announced its deadliest day of the outbreak. Ninety-seven patients died from 2019-nCoV on Sunday, bringing the worldwide total to 910. In comparison, the “genetically close” coronavirus SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, killed 774 people back in 2003.
Over 40,000 cases of novel coronavirus have been confirmed, the majority of which are in China. Twenty-four other countries have also confirmed cases, according to WHO. The worldwide spread of the 2019-nCoV could be a huge cause for concern.
In a press briefing today (February 10, 2020), Ghebreyesus singled out cases in France and the UK for potentially being “the spark that becomes a bigger fire.”
“In recent days we have seen some concerning instances of onward transmission from people with no travel history to China, like the cases reported in France yesterday and the UK today,” Ghebreyesus said in the press briefing.
“The detection of this small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire. But for now, it’s only a spark. Our objective remains containment. We call on all countries to use the window of opportunity we have to prevent a bigger fire.”
WHO’s future efforts to combat and contain the virus were also discussed in the briefing, including a global research and innovation forum starting tomorrow, and a WHO-led international mission to China led by Dr Bruce Aylward, who has just arrived in Beijing with an advance team.