Outbreak a global threat worse than terrorism: WHO

A passenger wears a protective mask and covers herself and her child with a plastic bag at the Beijing railway station on Feb 11, 2020.
A passenger wears a protective mask and covers herself and her child with a plastic bag at the Beijing railway station on Feb 11, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

GENEVA • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the coronavirus epidemic posed a global threat potentially worse than terrorism.

The world must "wake up and consider this enemy virus as public enemy No. 1," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Tuesday, adding that the first vaccine may be 18 months away.

The number of those infected globally reached more than 45,000 yesterday, with over 1,100 deaths, most of them in China's Hubei province, the heart of the outbreak.

The country's top medical adviser for the outbreak has predicted that it will end by April, but WHO experts have warned that the virus' spread to the rest of the world has just begun.

Dr Tedros also expressed his concern that the virus will create havoc, particularly in countries with weaker public health systems.

He said countries should be "as aggressive as possible" to contain the spread of the disease and prevent it from being transmitted regionally.

The WHO also announced that it will initiate a United Nations crisis management team against the virus.

REUTERS, XINHUA

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2020, with the headline 'Outbreak a global threat worse than terrorism: WHO'. Print Edition | Subscribe