February 21 coronavirus news
There’s great concern about the spread of the novel coronavirus in countries outside China and among people with no connection to China or Wuhan, World Health Orginization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.
There’s still a window of opportunity to contain the virus, Tedros said, “but the window of opportunity is narrowing.”
WHO is calling on countries to continue containment measures while preparing for community transmission, he said. He said China’s containment measures in Wuhan and elsewhere are “hammering” the virus and can help contain it.
"We must not look back and regret that we failed to take advantage of the window of opportunity we have,” he said.
The outbreak can still go any direction, Tedros said, and countries need to prepare for any eventuality.
Dr. Sylvie Briand, director of the World Health Organization's Infectious Hazards Management Department, said the agency is working to prepare countries’ health care workers with training and making sure they know how to protect themselves, and to make sure countries have enough workers to handle a number of cases.
The World Health Organization-led joint mission working on coronavirus in China will travel tomorrow to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said today during a press briefing. It’s up to the team what it wants to focus on there, Tedros said.
So far, the team has been working Beijing, Sichuan and Guangdong, he said.
Tedros said previously the team includes experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US National Institutes of Health, as well as experts from Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Nigeria, Germany and Russia. The team includes experts in epidemiology, virology, clinical management, outbreak control and public health.
The novel coronavirus has spread to several Iranian cities, Minnou Mohraz, a member of the National Committee for Infectious Diseases at the Ministry of Health said today.
“The spread of the coronavirus started in Qom and has reached other cities in the country like Tehran, Babol, Arak, Isfahan, Rasht and other cities due to people traveling. There is a possibility that it exists in all cities across the country,” Mohraz said.
Mohraz said that the source of virus in Iran could be a Chinese worker who works in the city of Qom and had traveled to China. “It’s clear that new coronavirus has circulated in the country and probably the source of this illness was Chinese workers who work in the city of Qom and had traveled to China.”
Singapore reported one new case of the novel coronavirus today, taking the national total of confirmed cases to 86, according to a press release by the country's Ministry of Health.
The new confirmed case is a 24 year-old Singapore national. He has no recent travel history. He was confirmed to have COVID-19 infection yesterday and is currently in isolation.
Top Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow downplayed the prospect of a significant impact to the US economy from coronavirus today.
Asked by reporters about the potential impact of the coronavirus on the economy and whether he anticipates it being similar to the effect of SARS, Kudlow said, “I understand the risks, and I understand these things could change quickly, but right now what we know is there’s barely any impact here at home.”
“The human toll in my opinion is more important than the statistics… [China’s] getting hurt very badly,” he added.
Nissan factories in China's Hubei province will not restart production until Monday at the earliest due to the novel coronavirus, a Nissan spokesperson told CNN.
The company is complying with Chinese government instructions and does not rule out that restart at the plants could be further delayed.
The World Health Organization said China is making "intensive efforts" to contain the novel coronavirus in response to an inquiry from CNN about conditions in a field hospital and reports that healthy people who had tested negative were being quarantined there.
The WHO stated that the Chinese government’s efforts were in response to an "unprecedented crisis." They also credited the containment effort for keeping the number of cases outside of mainland China “relatively low”.
Some people quarantined in Wuhan field hospitals told CNN's David Culver that they had previously tested negative for the virus and were afraid they would contract it inside the facility. Images from inside the hospitals show close living quarters.
Here's the statement from the WHO:
"Our acknowledgement of China’s response is purely based on evidence; the fact that they shared the genome sequencing of the virus with WHO and the world in record time, thus preventing the virus from spreading to other countries; the fact that they have shared epidemiological data with WHO since the beginning of the outbreak and then regularly: the fact that they have willingly joined all WHO experts’ networks and are sharing their experience and knowledge regularly through these platforms; and the fact that they welcomed a WHO-led team of international experts to come to China and support local counterparts.
China is facing an unprecedented crisis and is responding in an unprecedented manner. We need to acknowledge that the relatively low number of cases of the virus detected outside of China is as a result of the intensive efforts the Chinese government is taking to contain the emergency and protect other countries."
The University of Hong Kong's LKS Faculty of Medicine has released a new image of the virus. In the micrograph, the orange dots are viral particles, and the blue is the surface of a cell.
Here's what it looks like:
Lebanon announced its first confirmed coronavirus case in the country, Lebanese Health Minister Hammad Hassan said during a news conference today.
Hassan said that the patient is a 45-year-old female who returned yesterday from the city of Qom in Iran. There are two more suspected cases but they are yet to be confirmed as positive, Hassan added.
Hassan announced that all travelers returning from Iran will now be held under home quarantine for 14 days.
Earlier today, Iran announced there are a total of 18 coronavirus cases in the country. At least four people have died from the virus.