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Covid-19 ten times deadlier than swine flu: WHO Chief

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on April 14, 2020 Published on April 14, 2020

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General , WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday said that the current global Covid-19 pandemic was much deadlier than the 2009 swine flu pandemic urging countries to take necessary measures to curb the spread of the outbreak.

“We’re all learning all the time and adjusting our strategy, based on the latest available evidence. We know that Covid-19 spreads fast, and we know that it is deadly – 10 times deadlier than the 2009 flu pandemic,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing on Monday.

According to statistics provided by the WHO the death toll from the 2009 "swine flu", or H1N1 pandemic stood at 18,500. The swine flu was first uncovered in Mexico and the United States in March 2009, However, statistics by the Lancet estimated the death toll to be somewhere between 151,700 and 575,400.

The swine flu outbreak had begun in Mexico and was declared a pandemic in June 2009. It was considered to be over by August 2010.

The coronavirus outbreak is traced back to Wuhan in China which is believed to be the ground zero for the novel coronavirus pandemic. The first case of the new virus was reported back in December 2019. As of Tuesday morning, countries across the globe have reported over 1.8 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 with the death toll surpassing 1.1 lakh as per reports.

The WHO chief last week had urged countries to carefully remove imposed restrictions as lifting lockdowns too quickly could lead to a “deadly resurgence of the virus.”

“We know that in some countries, cases are doubling every 3 to 4 days. However, while Covid-19 accelerates very fast, it decelerates much more slowly. In other words, the way down is much slower than the way up. That means control measures must be lifted slowly, and with control. It cannot happen all at once,” Ghebreyesus reemphasized his point in the Monday briefing.

The WHO director-general had suggested that countries should evaluate six primary parameters before it considers lifting restrictions put into place to flatten the curve.

Countries should ensure that the transmission is controlled and that sufficient public health and medical services are available, he had said.

“Some countries and communities have now endured several weeks of social and economic restrictions. Some countries are considering when they can lift these restrictions; others are considering whether and when to introduce them. In both cases, these decisions must be based first and foremost on protecting human health and guided by what we know about the virus and how it behaves,” he further said.

Published on April 14, 2020

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