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Cruise Ship With No Coronavirus Cases Rejected at Multiple Ports

WHO chief on contagious disease: It's 'public enemy No. 1'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2020 9:40 AM CST
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In this image taken Feb. 4, 2020, a Chinese citizen journalist Chen Qiushi speaks in front of a convention center turned makeshift hospital amid a viral epidemic in Wuhan in China's Hubei province.   (Courtesy of Chen Qiushi via AP)

(Newser) – Coronavirus now has an official name from the World Health Organization—COVID-19—though the WHO also has been using an unofficial moniker: "public enemy No. 1." That's what Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the group's director-general, called the outbreak Tuesday at a Geneva press conference, per NBC News. The death toll in China, where the illness is most prevalent, is now upward of 1,110, Chinese health officials say, and more than 500 cases and two fatalities have been reported outside of that country. "A virus is more powerful in creating political, economic, and social upheaval than any terrorist attack," Ghebreyesus said at the presser. "If the world doesn't want to wake up and consider this enemy virus as public enemy No. 1, I don't think we will learn from our lesson." More on the epidemic:

  • Glimpse of hope: There were 2,015 new cases reported in China on Wednesday, but that's actually a sliver of good news, notes Reuters, as it was the lowest daily rise in almost two weeks. That may bode well, with a possible dying-down of the outbreak by the end of April, according to certain estimates, though some experts warn this is just the beginning of coronavirus-related problems in other areas.
  • Tracing the 'hot spots': The New York Times reports the coronavirus hasn't only been tied to a "misery cruise" on the Diamond Princess, where close to 175 people have been diagnosed, but also to other specific buildings around the world, including a Hong Kong apartment building, a French ski chalet, and a department store in China. None of these places are near Wuhan, the outbreak's epicenter, leading to new fears on how, and how fast, this disease can spread.
  • Cornering a conduit: In the case of the Hong Kong apartment building, health officials think they've pinpointed how the virus is spreading: via building pipes. Per CNN and the Times, a 62-year-old woman found to have been infected had an unsealed pipe in her bathroom, which was 10 floors below the apartment of a 75-year-old man who'd already been diagnosed. CNN notes pipes were "a major source of transmission" during the 2003 SARS outbreak.

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