COVID-19 slower than flu but more dangerous: WHO


New Delhi: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has observed that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads less efficiently than the influenza or flu virus. However, the WHO also noted that the illness caused by COVID-19 is more severe than that of the flu.

In a media release issued on Tuesday, WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted, “COVID-19 spreads less efficiently than flu, and transmission does not appear to be driven by people who are not sick, while in the case of influenza, people who are infected but not yet sick are major drivers of transmission.”

The WHO is relying on data compiled on the virus to obtain a clearer picture of the situation as it unfolds. The WHO chief observed, “as we get more data, we are understanding this virus, and the disease it causes, more and more.”

He added, “this virus is not SARS, it’s not MERS, and it’s not influenza. It is a unique virus with unique characteristics. Both COVID-19 and influenza cause respiratory disease and spread the same way, via small droplets of fluid from the nose and mouth of someone who is sick. However, there are some important differences between COVID-19 and influenza. Some countries are looking for cases of COVID-19 using surveillance systems for influenza and other respiratory diseases.”

According to evidence collected from China, which WHO observed, 1 per cent of the reported COVID-19 cases do not display symptoms, and the majority of such cases tend to develop symptoms within two days.

A total of 90,893 cases of COVID-19 infections and 3110 deaths have been reported globally.

As per data released by the WHO, China reported 129 cases over the past 24 hours, which is the lowest number of cases since January 20. Outside China, 1848 cases were reported from 48 countries, of which, 80 percent of cases are from just three countries – the Republic of Korea, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Italy.

Meanwhile, 12 new countries have reported their first cases, and there are now 21 countries with one case reported from each country. At least 122 countries have not reported any cases.

“There are not yet any vaccines or therapeutics to cure the disease. It can be contained – which is why we must do everything we can to contain it. That’s why WHO recommends a comprehensive approach,” said Ghebreyesus.



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