Full data only provided in 38 per cent of cases, WHO says

During a technical briefing overnight about the virus, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that 99 per cent of the cases were in China and 97 per cent of deaths had been in Hubei province.

“This is first and foremost an emergency for China.”

While the death toll has since been raised to 490, the WHO briefing yesterday noted the latest data it had published was for 20,471 confirmed cases in China, including 425 deaths.

Outside China there had been 176 cases in 24 countries, and one death, in the Philippines.

Dr Ghebreyesus said the risk of the virus spreading globally remained high and now was the time for countries to be preparing themselves.

However, he said WHO had only received vital information from countries in 38 per cent of cases.

“Of the 176 cases reported outside China so far, WHO has received complete case report forms for only 38 per cent of cases,” Dr Ghebreyesus said.

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A medical staffer works with test systems for the diagnosis of coronavirus, at the Krasnodar Centre for Hygiene and Epidemiology microbiology lab in Krasnodar, Russia. Picture: APSource:AP

“Some high-income countries are well behind in sharing this vital data with WHO. I don’t think it’s because they lack capacity.”

He called on all member states to share detailed information including epidemiological, clinical severity and the results of community studies and investigations.

“Without better data, it’s very hard for us to assess how the outbreak is evolving, or what impact it could have, and to ensure we are providing the most appropriate recommendations.

“We can only defeat this outbreak with global solidarity, and that starts with collective participation in global surveillance.”

Dr Ghebreyesus said there was a “window of opportunity” to contain the virus.

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Visitors wearing masks walk through the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 4. Picture: Ore Huiying/Getty Images

Visitors wearing masks walk through the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 4. Picture: Ore Huiying/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“While 99 per cent of cases are in China, in the rest of the world we only have 176 cases,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean that it won’t get worse. But for sure we have a window of opportunity to act.

“Because 176 in the rest of the world is very small, (there is) no reason to panic or fear. Of course, people are worried – they should be.

“There is a window of opportunity because of the measures China has used at the epicentre, at the source. Let’s not miss this window of opportunity.”

Dr Ghebreyesus asked countries not to impose restrictions inconsistent with the International Health Regulations as these could increase fear and stigma, and had little public benefit.

“So far, 22 countries have reported such restrictions to WHO,” he said.

“Where such measures have been implemented, we urge that they are short in duration, proportionate to the public health risks, and are reconsidered regularly as the situation evolves.”

He also urged countries to facilitate rapid collaboration between the public and private sectors to develop the diagnostics, medicines and vaccines needed to bring the outbreak under control.


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