WHO notes mild symptoms in most COVID-19 patients amid rapid spread

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 09 2020 01:22 PM

MANILA — The World Health Organization on Monday said the world has passed a “somber moment” as the spread of the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) reached a new high.

“We have passed a very somber moment over the weekend,” Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines, told the press in the presidential palace.

“Not only have we passed the 100,000 cases confirmed globally, we also acknowledge now that more than 100 countries have confirmed COVID(19) cases.”

As of Monday morning, the WHO global dashboard counts more than 106,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 from 103 countries.

Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said 53 of these countries’ transmissions are unrelated to China, the epicenter of disease.

The Philippines has so far reported 10 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including an incident of local transmission.

“While the efforts in China have been successful in controlling the spread, we have been seeing localized outbreaks affecting many countries,” Abeyasinghe said.

Despite this, he said the WHO “reiterates we can still control the spread of the disease and prevent it from becoming a global pandemic.”

He also pointed out that at least 81 percent of the cases are mild.

He said those who developed critical and severe effects of the disease are elderly and have existing medical conditions.

Abeyasinghe reminded the public that COVID-19 is “largely transmitted through droplets” and there is no evidence it is airborne.

“This is why WHO continues to advocate the practicing of hand hygiene, cough etiquette and social distancing."

He said those who are most at risk, especially the elderly, should avoid going to crowded places.

Meanwhile, he advised those with respiratory symptoms in general not to go to work, school and to crowded places.

Abeyasinghe said that while it is most likely not COVID-19, people can help prevent the spread of other respiratory illnesses, as well.