Geneva/Rome, 28 February 2020 (dpa/MIA) – The risk of a global spread of the novel coronavirus has become ‘very high,’ World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared on Friday, pointing to infections that have been exported from Italy and Iran to several countries.
“The continuing increase in the number of cases and number of affected countries over the last few days are clearly of concern,” he said in Geneva.
Tedros said that 24 Covid-19 cases have been exported from Italy—the worst-hit country in Europe—to 14 countries and that 97 cases have been exported from Iran to 11 countries.
The UN health agency had previously labeled the global risk as “high.”
The number of people who have contracted the coronavirus in Italy jumped to 888, up from 650 on Thursday, the Italian Civil Protection Agency reported.
The latest figure included 21 dead—up four from Thursday—and 46 recoveries, as well as 345 people in hospital, with 64 critical cases in intensive care.
A further 412 patients have no or mild symptoms and do not need hospitalization and are expected to recover from the virus on their own while under isolation at home.
In Lombardy, two hospitals in the towns of Lodi and Cremona were struggling with the situation. “They are overwhelmed with patients,” Professor Massimo Galli of the Sacco hospital in Milan said in a press conference.
“We are at the highest level of alert,” UN emergency operations chief Mike Ryan said in Geneva, explaining that raising the alarm level was meant as a wakeup call to the many countries that are still not properly prepared for their first Covid-19 case.
“Wake up, get ready,” Ryan said.
The European countries affected by the virus stretches across the continent and numbers at least 18.
Meanwhile, the tally of new infections in China, where the virus emerged, has reached the lowest level in more than a month, the WHO said.