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Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Explained: WHO raises global risk of coronavirus to ‘very high’, what does this mean

The World Health Organization has increased the assessment of the risk of spread and risk of the impact of the coronavirus from “high” to “very high” at the global level.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: March 1, 2020 1:48:09 pm
Explained: WHO says global risk of coronavirus 'very high'; what does this mean? South Korean Army soldiers wearing protective gear gather to spray disinfectant to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus at the Dongdaegu train station in Daegu, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (AP/PTI Photo)

According to the World Health Organization’s latest situation report, five new member states have reported cases of COVID-2019. These are Belarus, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand and Nigeria. Further, WHO has increased the assessment of the risk of spread and risk of the impact of the coronavirus from “high” to “very high” at the global level.

As of Friday, China reported over 78,000 cases with roughly 2,800 deaths. At 329 new cases, China recorded its lowest cases in a month, a development that is welcomed by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

After China, South Korea has reported the most number of cases at 2337, followed by Italy, at 650. As of now, countries outside China account for about three-quarters of the new infections with Iran reporting the most number of deaths at 34.

Read | Some say the coronavirus risk is exaggerated, the ‘normal’ flu is just as bad. Here’s some perspective

A press release issued by the UN quoted Ghebreyesus as saying, “The continued increase in the number of cases and the number of affected countries over the last few days are clearly of concern. Our epidemiologists have been monitoring these developments continuously and we have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of COVID-19 to very high at global level.”

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Significantly, posing a new kind of challenge, Chinese officials have claimed that some of the recovered patients had been found to be re-infected, implying that eradication may be more difficult than previously thought.

Explained: What is the meaning of “very high” risk of spread and impact?

WHO has prepared a manual to guide the rapid risk assessment of acute public health risks. The guidelines in the manual are aimed at national departments with health-protection responsibilities.

Within this manual, the WHO characterises risk of spread and impact of a disease on a scale that ranges from “low risk” to “very high” level of risk.

Explained: WHO says global risk of coronavirus 'very high'; what does this mean? Army soldiers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus at the Dongdaegu train station in Daegu, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (Kim Hyun-tai/Yonhap via AP)

It defines the different characterisations of risk as follows:

Low Risk: “Managed according to standard response protocols, routine control programmes and regulation (e.g. monitoring through routine surveillance systems)”.

Moderate Risk: “Roles and responsibility for the response must be specified. Specific monitoring or control measures required (e.g. enhanced surveillance, additional vaccination campaigns)”.

High Risk: “Senior management attention needed: there may be a need to establish command and control structures; a range of additional control measures will be required some of which may have significant consequences”.

Very High Risk: “Immediate response required even if the event is reported out of normal working hours. Immediate senior management attention needed (e.g. the command and control structure should be established within hours); the implementation of control measures with serious consequences is highly likely”.

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