February 18, 2020 — The World Health Organisation has warned against a global over-reaction to the Covid-19 epidemic, following reports of panic-buying, event cancellations and concerns about cruise ship travel in several countries.
The cruise ship industry has come into focus as hundreds of people became
infected aboard a vessel off Japan and at least one person tested positive
after disembarking another liner in Cambodia.
The WHO, which had previously said travel restrictions were unnecessary,
today insisted that cruises should not be stopped because of the epidemic.
“Measures should be taken proportional to the situation. Blanket
measures may not help,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus .
The WHO also pointed out that with a mortality rate at around two per cent,
Covid-19 is actually less deadly than similar diseases such as Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
There have been some 900 cases outside mainland China, with one death each in France, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The WHO also noted that more than 80 per cent of patients of Covid-19 only suffered mild symptoms and had recovered.
“This is a very serious outbreak and it has the potential to grow, but
we need to balance that in terms of the number of people infected. Outside
Hubei this epidemic is affecting a very, very tiny, tiny proportion of
people,” said WHO health emergencies programme head Michael Ryan.
The official death toll in China is now 1,868, while another 98
had died. Nonetheless, the country recorded less than 1,900 new cases over the past 24hours, which was a drop from the previous day and the lowest figure this month.
The WHO, however warned that the trend needs to be interpreted cautiously as it is not necessarily an indication that the decline would continue.
Over 72,000 people have now been infected in China and hundreds more abroad.
Locally the first Malaysian Covid-19 patient has recovered and been discharged from hospital, making him the ninth patient in Malaysia to have recovered from the virus.
The man from Selangor was tested positive February 3 and was treated at the Sungai Buloh Hospital.
He was believed to have been infected during a business trip to Singapore where he attended meetings also with delegates from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.
The man’s sister and mother-in-law, who contracted the virus from him over the Chinese New Year, are being in Alor Star and Sungai Buloh.