Not if, but when: ‘No country exempt’ from coronavirus outbreak, WHO warns

Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus says the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is at its most critical level yet, as cases around the world have now outnumbered those in China.

Speaking a press conference in Geneva on Thursday (Feb. 27), Ghebreyesus expressed concern as new hotspots emerged in Iran, Italy and South Korea.

“What’s happening in the rest of the world is now our greatest concern. Outside China, there are now 3,474 cases in 44 countries and 54 deaths,” he said.

“We’re at a decisive point. For the past two days, the number of new cases reported in the rest of the world has exceeded the number of new cases reported from China and in the past 24 hours, seven countries have reported cases for the first time,” Ghebreyesus added.

Marking its entry into South America, Brazil confirmed its first case on Wednesday; so too, did Algeria and Switzerland. A day later, Georgia, Greece, North Macedonia, Norway, Pakistan, and Romania confirmed cases as well.

“No country should assume it wouldn’t get cases. That could be a fatal mistake…”

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

On Friday, news emerged out of Mexico that officials there confirmed the Latin American country’s first case of the virus – bringing the outbreak that much closer to the Caribbean. What’s more, Nigeria confirmed the first case in sub-Saharan Africa earlier this morning, signalling a new frontier for the coronavirus contagion. New Zeland has confirmed its first case of COVID-19.

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) (Photo: Twitter)

As of Friday, COVID-19 has been confirmed on every continent except uninhabited Antarctica, with the WHO expecting all countries to be hit by the outbreak in the coming weeks.

“This is your window of opportunity; if you act aggressively now, you can prevent people getting sick. You can save lives! My advice is to move swiftly and contain [the coronavirus],” the WHO Director-General warned.

“No country should assume it wouldn’t get cases. That could be a fatal mistake. This virus does not respect borders, it does not distinguish between races or ethnicities. It has no regard for a country’s GDP or level of development,” Ghebreyesus told journalists.

To date, there have been 2,855 deaths from over 83,000 infections across 53 countries globally.

An updated map of countries infected by COVID-19

“The point is not to only prevent cases on your shores, [but] what you do when you have cases. But we are not hopeless; we are not defenceless. There are things every country and every person can do,” he added.

As of Friday, February 28, the following countries and territories have confirmed cases of COVID-19:

  • China
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Vietnam
  • Singapore
  • United States
  • Macao
  • Sri Lanka
  • India
  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Malaysia
  • Thailand
  • Italy
  • Kuwait
  • Bahrain
  • France
  • Germany
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Spain
  • Canada
  • Sweden
  • Iraq
  • Oman
  • Russia
  • Switzerland
  • The Philippines
  • Israel
  • Lebanon
  • Croatia
  • Greece
  • Austria
  • Pakistan
  • Finland
  • Belgium
  • Nepal
  • Cambodia
  • Egypt
  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Brazil
  • North Macedonia
  • Georgia
  • Estonia
  • Denmark
  • Romania
  • Norway
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria