Geneva: The chief of the World Health Organization on Monday warned the planet must prepare for a potential coronavirus pandemic.
Dr Tedros Adhanom said the sudden spike of COVID-19 cases in Iran, Italy and South Korea in the past 24 hours is ‘deeply concerning’. His comments at a press conference in Geneva came after the WHO admitted the killer outbreak won’t be officially declared a pandemic.
Instead, the UN-body said the crisis has already been declared a public health emergency of international concern – the highest warning level – for a month. But fears of a pandemic are mounting, with a surge in cases
taking the world close to the ‘tipping point’ with 80,000 confirmed cases and 2,600 deaths.
The body, headquartered in Geneva in Switzerland, argues a pathogen must spread easily between humans across the world before it is called a pandemic.
The WHO said the current crisis is a cluster of cases in 36 countries and territories, which can be traced back to Asia.
SCARE IN LYON, FLIGHT ON HOLD: An unwell coach driver, who was coughing, triggered a coronavirus scare at a French bus station on Monday; the bus had arrived from Italy, where six people have died in Europe’s first major outbreak.
French police impounded the coach in Lyon after it arrived from Milan. After a two-hour lockdown on the bus, passengers were hauled off the coach and taken into quarantine in the bus station, while the driver was hurried to hospital to be screened for the deadly virus.
The scare in Lyon came shortly after an Italian passenger jet was held in Mauritius over virus fears, with dozens of passengers from Lombardy and Veneto – the worst-affected regions – told to return home or face quarantine.
INDIAN ATTACKED: An Indian-origin woman trainee lawyer in the UK fell unconscious after being beaten by an unidentified man when she tried to save her Chinese friend from a racist attack over coronavirus, media reports said on Monday.
The incident took place when Meera Solanka (29) from England’s Solihull town was out with her friends, including her Chinese friend Mandy Huang (28) from London, celebrating her 29th birthday in Midlands region.