Coronavirus presents “grave threat” to world, WHO chief warns as death toll tops 1,000

Author: CBS News
Published: Updated:
Photo via CBS News

With the death toll from the coronavirus at 1,017, the head of the World Health Organization gathered top scientists in Geneva on Tuesday to try and answer a raft of questions about the new disease. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a plea for global unity against “a common enemy that does not respect borders or ideologies.”

The WHO said there were 42,708 confirmed cases of the disease in China alone, with 393 more in 24 different countries. That includes a new case confirmed Monday in San Diego, the 13th person diagnosed in the U.S. Like most cases, that patient was recently in the Chinese city of Wuhan. All but one of the fatalities from the virus has been in China.

“With 99% of cases in China, this remains very much an emergency for that country, but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world,” Tedros warned Tuesday, urging health officials and governments to “use the window of opportunity that we have now.”

The WHO has grown increasingly concerned about the virus being transmitted from people with no recent history of travel to China to others in their home countries. Tedros said Monday that this “community spread,” which has been seen now in the U.K. and Spain, at least, could be the “spark” that lights a bigger fire.

California air base personnel “accosted” by concerned community members
Health officials in Riverside County, California have warned community members to stop harassing military personnel from March Air Reserve Base — where quarantine was set to expire Tuesday for nearly 200 American evacuees who were flown in from the Chinese province where the coronavirus outbreak is believed to have started.

In an open letter, Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser wrote that “a few base workers have even been accosted in uniform” by community members who are concerned about the virus and the people quarantined in their neighborhood.

13th U.S. virus patient initially tested negative, was sent back to quarantine
The 13th confirmed case of the new coronavirus, an individual who flew back from Wuhan on a U.S. government-chartered flight last week, initially tested negative for the virus and was mistakenly released from isolation back into federal quarantine with others on a military base, CBS News correspondent Carter Evans reports.

On Monday, confirmed to have the disease, the person was in a San Diego hospital and said to be doing well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement that it was “conducting a thorough contact investigation of the person who has tested positive to determine contacts and to assess if those contacts had high-risk exposures.”

The CDC was still testing about 70 people for the virus across the U.S. on Monday, including another individual who had been on the same flight out of China last week. Evans said that the person had started exhibiting symptoms indicative of possible infection with the new coronavirus.

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