Hong Kong’s leading public health epidemiologist has warned that around two-thirds of the world’s population could get infected by the new coronavirus if it can not be controlled. The warning came after the World Health Organization ( WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said that transmission among people with no travel history to China could be the 'tip of the iceberg'.
Speaking to The Guardian, Prof Gabriel Leung, adding to Ghebreyesus’s comment, said that it was important to find out the size and shape of the ‘iceberg’. Quoting health experts, Leung, who himself chairs public health medicine at Hong Kong University, opined that each infected person could transmit the virus to about 2.5 people on an average giving it an “attack rate” of 60-80 per cent.
Leung will attend an expert meeting at the WHO in Geneva and will advise the attendees that the scale of the epidemic remains the major issue. The public health epidemic has already claimed more than 1,000 lives which forced Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit a healthcare centre to boost the public morale.
Meanwhile, WHO and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) has signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize a strategic collaboration to strengthen diagnosis in resource-poor countries by closing major diagnostic gaps at the country level.
“Global health challenges such as the ongoing new #2019nCoV outbreak demonstrates that without these essential elements of health systems, we cannot hope to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable,” tweeted Ghebreyesus.
WHO is also convening a global research and innovation forum to mobilize international action in response to the new coronavirus. The forum will be held on February 11-12 in Geneva which is being organized in collaboration with the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness. “WHO is playing an important coordinating role by bringing the scientific community together to identify research priorities and accelerate progress,” said Ghebreyesus in a statement.