WHO: Most Infected People Will Recover, As Have More Than 70% of Chinese Patients

Patrick Goodenough | March 10, 2020 | 4:23am EDT
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The first coronavirus patient in China's Fujian province is discharged from hospital upon recovery last month. (Photo by TPG/Getty Images)
The first coronavirus patient in China's Fujian province is discharged from hospital upon recovery last month. (Photo by TPG/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – More than 70 percent of the cumulative number of people infected with the novel coronavirus in China have recovered, the World Health Organization stressed on Monday, saying that although the threat of a global pandemic looms large, most infections will end in recovery.

The disease spread in Europe in particular continues to raise alarm, and in Italy, the worst-affected country outside of China, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced late Monday that lockdown conditions earlier imposed in the hard-hit north will now be extended to the entire country.

Italy now reports more than 9,000 cases of COVID-19, out of a total 113,582 worldwide. Elsewhere in Europe, France, Germany and Spain all have more than 1,000 cases each, while Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Britain have more than 300 each, and Sweden, Belgium, and Norway more than 200 each.

At a briefing in Geneva, WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that with the virus taking such a widespread hold – it is now in around 110 countries and territories – “the threat of a pandemic has become very real.”

“But it would be the first pandemic in history that could be controlled,” he continued. “The bottom line is: we are not at the mercy of this virus.”

Tedros said that in more than 70 percent of the more than 80,000 COVID-19 cases in China, patients had recovered and been discharged.

The epidemic thus far was also uneven, he noted: 93 percent of all cases worldwide are in just four countries – China, Italy, South Korea, and Iran.

“The great advantage we have is that the decisions we all make – as governments, businesses, communities, families and individuals – can influence the trajectory of this epidemic,” Tedros said.

“We need to remember that with decisive, early action, we can slow down the virus and prevent infections. Among those who are infected, most will recover.”

Real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University show that of a cumulative total of 113,582 cases worldwide since the outbreak began, 62,496 (55 percent) have recovered as on Monday night. That’s a snapshot of the situation right now; many more of those currently going through the infection phase will recover.

“In many countries in Europe [where the outbreak is more recent than in China], people haven’t had a chance to recover,” WHO’s emergencies program director Michael Ryan said during the briefing. “Remember, it takes anything up to six weeks to recover from this disease. So it might to quite misleading to say that, in a country that has 500 cases, no-one has recovered.”

The number of new cases in China has dropped significantly – just 45 new cases over the 24-hour period ending Monday morning, compared to 3,949 new cases outside of China over that period. Because of the slowdown, and the fact that China accounted for the vast majority of infections in the first place, Chinese can now provide a broad indicator of recovery rates.

Of 80,860 cumulative cases in China, 58,796 patients, or 72.7 percent, have recovered as of Monday night. Of the 80,860 cases, 3,120, or 3.8 percent, ended in death.

 (Graph: CNSNews.com/Data: WHO)
(Graph: CNSNews.com/Data: WHO)

Tedros noted that South Korea, until recently the country with the most cases outside of China, is also now witnessing an apparent reduction. For four consecutive days, the number of new cases in South Korea has dropped, from 518, to 483, to 367, and down to 248 on Monday.

Worldwide, of the 110 countries reporting COVID-19 cases, 79 have fewer than 100 cases each, and 43 of those 79 have fewer than ten cases each, he said.

‘The vast majority of people who contract the coronavirus will get better’

Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO infectious diseases epidemiologist, said the aggressiveness of the measures each country takes “will dictate what happens in each country.”

“But if we can see a country have more than 80,000 cases now start to see a decline, that is more than hope, that is evidence, you know, of showing that this can be done.”

At a White House briefing by the president’s coronavirus task force on Monday, Vice President Mike Pence also referred to recovery after coronavirus infection.

“The vast majority of people who contract the coronavirus will get better,” he said. “And the president has just challenged our task force, as the numbers grow – and they will, as we’ll continue to test more and more Americans, we are as I’m standing here – that it’s also important to remember that people, the vast majority, get better, completely.”

A large percentage have mild flu symptoms, while others have more serious ones, he said. The elderly, especially those with underlying conditions, are seen as especially vulnerable.

“We’re committed to lean in and make sure they have the support they need.”

According to WHO, data from China found higher COVID-19 mortality rates in the over-80s, and in patients with underlying conditions, especially cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer.


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