WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Coronavirus outbreak can go any direction: WHO chief

Agency News

After seeing a spike in cases of Coronavirus outbreak, WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that any apparent slowdown in the spread of the epidemic should be viewed with "extreme caution".

Results from Chinese trials testing a combination of antiviral drugs used to treat HIV against the new coronavirus are due in weeks, but experts say a vaccine could still be months away.

"This outbreak could still go in any direction," he told a briefing in Geneva. Another expert said that while the coronavirus may be peaking in China, this was not the case elsewhere.

"It has spread to other places where it's the beginning of the outbreak," Dale Fisher, head of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network coordinated by the WHO, said in an interview in Singapore. "In Singapore, we are at the beginning."

Singapore has 50 cases, including one found at its biggest bank, DBS, on Wednesday that caused an evacuation at the head office.

Tedros said a WHO-led advance team that traveled to China this week had made good progress on the composition and scope of its work. The head of the WHO's emergency program, Dr. Mike Ryan, said it was too early "to predict the beginning, the middle or end of the epidemic".