WHO says death rate of novel coronavirus now going down

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said that the death rate of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) cases is now “going down.”

During a Senate hearing on the government’s steps in addressing the 2019-nCoV outbreak, WHO representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe noted that the virus’ mortality rate has gone down to two percent, slightly lower than the previous rate of 2.3 percent.

As of February 4, China’s National Health Commission reported that a total of 427 persons have died after getting infected with the virus, including two outside of China while confirmed cases have soared to more than 20,400.

“The death rate is going down because we are testing more people who are less severely affected, who have mild symptoms. And in this scenario, we are seeing that the percentage of death is about 2%,” Abeyasinghe said.

Based on WHO data, the health official said that 88 percent of those who have died from the virus were over 60 years old; the most affected gender was male, and that 70 percent of the cases had underlying illnesses.

The number of deaths from 2019-nCoV has overtaken that from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic that hit China in 2002-2003 which recorded 349 fatalities.

The WHO said SARS had 10 percent mortality rate while the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS CoV) had 37 percent.

However, while the novel coronavirus’ fatality rate is going down, the cases are still increasing which means that the virus spread remains a global health risk, Abeyasinghe said.

The WHO official also believes that the virus’ local transmission can be prevented through the cooperation of countries affected by the outbreak.  

“We still believe that this outbreak can be controlled like the previous two coronavirus outbreak of SARS and MERS CoV,” he said.

Many countries, including the Philippines, Australia, and the United States, have temporarily imposed travel bans to and from China in an effort to stave off the possible spread of the virus which was first detected in Wuhan City in December 2019. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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