Coronavirus 10 times more deadly than swine flu, says WHO

‘We can only say what we know, and we can only act on what we know’, WHO chief says in call for slow return to life as normal

Vincent Wood
Monday 13 April 2020 18:03 BST

The Covid-19 coronavirus has proven ten times deadlier than the swine flu outbreak that spread across the globe a decade prior, the World Health Organisation has confirmed.

The swine flu pandemic, which spanned a stretch of time between January 2009 and August 2010, saw more than 1.6million confirmed cases, resulting in the confirmed deaths of 18,449 people.

Now the World Health Organisation’s top official Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned the coronavirus pandemic currently gripping the planet has outstripped the fatalities caused by the H1N1 strain tenfold.

It comes as the UN health body urges governments to relax restrictions slowly as nations including Denmark, the US and Spain move towards reopening their societies.

“’We can only say what we know, and we can only act on what we know”, he said. “Evidence from several countries is giving us a clearer picture about this virus, how it behaves, how to stop it and how to treat it.

“We know that Covid-19 spreads fast and we know that it is deadly – ten times deadlier than the 2009 flu pandemic. We know that the virus can spread more easily in crowded environments like nursing homes. We know that early case finding, testing, isolating, caring for every case, and tracing every contact is essential for stopping transmission.

“We know that in some countries cases are doubling every three to four 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”.

He went on to implore governments to consider the impact of the virus on human health as the first priority in relaxing social distancing measures.

His comments come as Donald Trump said he would consider relaxing advice from the White House urging people to stay within their homes.

The US president has repeatedly urged for the economy to reopen while local officials, many of who have backed up guidance with the full force of the law, have expressed concern that Mr Trump’s approach would only see the outbreak continue for longer while leading to further deaths.

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