Loading articles...

WHO refrains from declaring pandemic as COVID-19 cases spike outside of China

Last Updated Mar 4, 2020 at 11:01 am PST

FILE - Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), addresses a press conference about the update on COVID-19 at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

WHO says now is time to prepare for potential pandemic as COVID-19 now having drastic impact on more countries

South Korea is now home to the largest coronavirus outbreak outside of China

BC Nurses Union president says local health professionals have been doing a good job dealing with the situation so far

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The number of fronts in the fight against the new coronavirus outbreak is growing worldwide, though the World Health Organization says the current situation has not yet risen to the point of a global pandemic.

“For the moment, we are not witnessing the uncontained global spread of this virus,” says WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Does this virus have pandemic potential? Absolutely it has. Are we there yet? From our assessment, not yet.”

Worldwide, over 80 thousand people have now contracted COVID-19, and more than 2,700 people have died as a result.

South Korea now contains the largest outbreak of the virus outside of China with 893 cases, fifteen times more than it reported last week. President Moon Jae-in is warning his country is at a turning point in containment efforts.

In the Middle East, Iran’s neighbouring countries are taking steps to limit contact with its travellers. Dubai International — one of the world’s largest airports — has suspended all flights to Iran, while lawmakers in Iraq are demanding that the border with Iran be sealed.

Several towns in northern Italy remain under lockdown because of over 280 confirmed COVID-19 cases and seven deaths. Air Canada is now allowing flyers who have booked flights to affected parts of Italy will be allowed to reschedule at no additional cost.

In China meanwhile, where the virus originated, health workers appear to be getting a handle on the outbreak.

Bruce Aylward, the head of the WHO’s Experts Advance Team, praised the Chinese government’s quick response and encouraged other countries to act fast as well.

“The single biggest lesson is speed, speed is everything. But what worries me most is, has the rest of the world learned the lesson of speed,” he says.

B.C. health care providers who ‘need to know’ are being informed, says nurses union

A seventh case of COVID-19 has been reported in B.C. — a man in his 40’s who is currently recovering at home in Fraser Health District.

Despite concerns relayed to NEWS 1130 about a lack of information being passed along to health professionals working near coronavirus patients, B.C. Nurses Union President Christine Sorensen says the response from authorities has been appropriate.

“Those health care providers who need to know who has been infected and where these patients have been isolated… are appropriately being informed,” she says.

“I certainly think our members are concerned about making sure that they have the appropriate equipment to utilize when and if they have a COVID patient that comes.”

Sorensen stresses the need for nurses and symptomatic patients alike to wear protective masks, and wash their hands frequently.