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  • “Globally, about 3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases have died,” Director-General of WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

    “Globally, about 3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases have died,” Director-General of WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. | Photo: EFE

Published 4 March 2020
Opinion

The fatality rate is higher than previous estimates that hovered around two percent while influenza’s figure is less than one.

As cases of the novel coronavirus spread across the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated Tuesday that the disease fatality rate is much higher than that of influenza, but is containable.

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“Globally, about 3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases have died,” Director-General of WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing in Geneva. 

The figure is higher than previous estimates that hovered around two percent while influenza’s fatality rate is less than one. Although the fatality rate of the novel virus so far still is a fraction of that of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome SARS (9.6 percent) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome MERS (34.4 percent). 

“This coronavirus is not SARS, it’s not MERS and it’s not influenza. It is a unique virus with unique characteristics,” WHO Chief added. 

But most researchers say it’s too early to say what the actual fatality rate of the novel coronavirus will ultimately be.

As of Wednesday, there are more than 93,000 cases in 82 countries and over 3,200 deaths. Authorities across the globe are scrambling to containing the rapid spread of the virus especially in countries such as South Korea, Italy, and Iran. 

Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers reached a deal to provide US$8.3 billion in emergency aid to confront the virus. All schools in Italy and a handful in  Poland and Germany have been ordered to close down until further notice. 

To date, a total of 119 cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported in Latin America; Ecuador leads with 10 confirmed cases followed by Mexico (5), Brazil (2), Argentina (1), and Dominican Republic (1). 

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