The world has entered unexplored territory in its battle against deadlycoronavirus, warned the United Nations health agency, as new infections fell dramatically in China on Tuesday, but have increased overseas with the number of deaths in the United States that stands at six.
Globally, the virus has killed more than 3,100 people and infected more than 90,000 even as a clear change in the crisis emerges, with nine times more cases recorded outside of China than in China. interior, according to the World Health Organization.
China has imposed draconian quarantines and travel restrictions to keep large sections of the population indoors for weeks, a strategy that appears to have paid off as new cases are down this month.
While Italy has locked cities, other countries have stopped putting in place mass quarantines and have instead discouraged large rallies, delayed sporting events and banned arrivals from countries affected by the viruses.
South Korea, Iran and Italy have become major spawning grounds for the romancoronavirus, which is said to have originated from a market selling wild animals in the central city of Wuhan in China at the end of last year.
“We are in unknown territory,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.
“We have never seen a respiratory pathogen capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained with the right measures.”
Community transmission means that infections within a population are not imported from another area affected by the virus.
The United States is now facing a potential epidemic, with six people dead in the state of northwest Washington, where authorities have warned residents that the battle against the disease has moved from containment to mitigation.
“The risk for all of us to be infected will increase,” said Jeff Duchin, health officer for King County, where five of the deaths occurred.
The neighborhood is home to Seattle, a city of over 700,000 people.
Eye treatment in the United States
The White House, which has been accused of downplaying the threat of the virus, continued to hit a bullish tone.
Vice President Mike Pence said treatment “could literally be available by this summer, or early fall.”
He was probably referring to remdesivir, an antiviral drug developed by the pharmaceutical company Gilead, which has already been used to treat an American patient and was headed for two expansive late-stage trials in Asia.
Pence also announced that US pharmaceuticals are joining a consortium to fight the virus, and said that South Korea and Italy, two of the hardest hit countries, will screen all of their air passengers to United States.
Despite its world-class hospitals and cutting-edge research, the United States is considered vulnerable to an epidemic because of the glaring disparities in its health care system, including nearly 28 million people without coverage.
China reported 125 new cases on Tuesday, its lowest daily increase in six weeks, with all but 11 infections in central Hubei province of Wuhan.
The death toll nationwide has risen to 2,943, with an additional 31 deaths, all in Hubei.
Chinese officials have touted progress in the fight against the epidemic, which has wreaked havoc on the world’s second largest economy and threatened to slow global growth.
World markets collapsed last week, but rebounded on Monday after governments and central banks announced they would intervene if necessary to ease the blow.
Finance ministers and heads of central banks in G7 countries will hold talks on Tuesday.
UN medical experts arrived in Iran on Monday to help fight the world’s second deadliest epidemic, with 66 deaths and more than 1,500 infections.
China sent experts to Iran on Saturday while Germany, France and Britain have pledged to provide emergency medical supplies, including test equipment, coveralls and gloves.
In Italy, tourist hotpots, including the Duomo of Milan, have reopened to visitors, but access was limited to avoid overcrowding in order to contain the virus.
Italy, the most affected country in Europe with around 1,700 infections, said on Monday that its deaths from the virus had gone from 18 to 52.
South Korea has the most infections outside of China, with more than 4,000 cases and 26 deaths.
WHO says the virus appears to particularly affect people over the age of 60 and those already weakened by other illnesses.
Its death rate is between two and five percent – higher than the seasonal flu.