Coronavirus Now a Greater Global Threat to Human Life than Terrorism, WHO Warns
World Health Organization issues warning as killer virus death toll continues to surge
The deadly coronavirus outbreak has now spread so far that it's considered a greater global threat to human life than terrorism, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.
According to WHO, coronavirus is the "worst enemy you can ever imagine" and one of the greatest threats to humanity the human race has faced.
So far, coronavirus has claimed more than 1,100 lives and struck down over 44,500 people after spreading globally.
Yet, China is hoping the killer virus will be locked down by April.
But Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO's director general, warns the outbreak could continue to spread for more than a year and a vaccine could take at least 18 months to develop.
"To be honest, a virus is more powerful in creating political, social and economic upheaval than any terrorist attack. It's the worst enemy you can imagine," he added.
Yesterday a top Hong Kong medical official predicted the coronavirus could infect more than 60 percent of the global population if containment methods fail.
Professor Gabriel Leung, chair of public health medicine in the city, said on Tuesday even if the coronavirus kills just 1 percent of sufferers, it could still wipe out as many as 45million people.
WHO has long believed that a new disease pandemic could rapidly race around the world and destabilize society, due to modern air travel.
Dr. Ghebreyesus' stark warning was a more broad statement about new unknown viruses, not specifically the Chinese coronavirus.
It comes after the United Nations health agency gave the illness its official name, COVID-19.
CO stands for corona, VI for virus, D for disease and 19 for the year it emerged, Dr. Ghebreyesus explained on Tuesday when it was revealed.
WHO bosses said they avoided referring to a geographical location, animal or group of people so it would not cause any prejudice.
The virus, which has had various names from simply coronavirus to Wuhan coronavirus, Chinese coronavirus or even snake flu, needs its own moniker because it is just one type of coronavirus.
The word refers to a group of viruses that contains those that cause SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).
The number of new cases reported in China each day has begun to level off, steadily declining in the last six days.
But scientists tackling the crisis warn the true toll will be much higher than figures show because thousands of patients have only mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.
Most experts believe that each infected person has gone on to transmit the virus to around 2.5 people, giving an 'attack rate' of 60 to 80 percent.
The death rate, however, is thought to be much lower.
Hong Kong's Professor Leung expects it to be around one percent once milder cases, that have not been diagnosed, are taken into account.
"Is 60 to 80 percent of the world's population going to get infected?," he told The Guardian during a trip to London this week,
"Maybe not. Maybe this virus will come in waves.
"Maybe the virus is going to attenuate its lethality because it certainly doesn't help it if it kills everybody in its path because it will get killed as well."
A total of 33 cases of the coronavirus have been diagnosed in Thailand and it was the first country outside of China to declare cases, on January 13.
Meanwhile, Brighton is at the center of Britain's coronavirus crisis, with six of the UK's eight confirmed cases diagnosed in the city.
"Super-spreader" businessman Steve Walsh picked up the virus in Singapore on a work trip and brought it back to the UK following a ski trip in France.
He is feared to have infected at least 11 others in the UK, France, and Spain.
Mr. Walsh broke his silence after discovering he was the source of an extraordinary web of cases stretching across the UK and Europe.
Speaking from an NHS isolation room, the sales executive yesterday revealed he had "fully recovered" and insisted he acted as quickly as possible once he realized the threat he posed.
Yesterday, authorities were still tracking the contacts of Mr. Walsh and his five associates – including two GPs – who have also tested positive in the Brighton area over the last few days.
One of the two infected GPs also worked at the A&E unit at Worthing Hospital in West Sussex, which was last night contacting patients and staff to tell them what precautions they should take.
The doctor, who has not been identified, treated a "small number" of patients at the hospital on February 4 and 5 before they became unwell and "self-isolated."