While the WHO stated the risk of COVID-19 spreading worldwide is now "very high", officials have suggested that efforts to combat the coronavirus are still in the containment phase. But some medical experts think the containment stage has long passed since, the spread of the COVID-19 is inevitable, and that living with the virus might become a reality. COVID-19 is the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. "This will not be contained, this has not been contained," said Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician at Toronto General Hospital.
Massive public health efforts were helpful in slowing down the spread of infections and reducing the pace and frequency of exported cases from China to the rest of the world, but containment has not worked, Bogoch said.
Will continue to spread
"The coronavirus is spreading throughout the world and it will continue to spread throughout the world," he said. On Friday, the WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a news conference that the Geneva-based health agency has "increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of COVID-19 to very high at a global level." China has seen more than 80,000 confirmed cases with almost 3,000 deaths. Outside China, there have been more than 7,000 cases in 60 countries reported, with more than 100 deaths.
Accepting the spreading
Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program said public health authorities speak of containment and of mitigation strategies when dealing with disease. Containment, he said, includes the measures taken to break the chain of transmission of the virus. Mitigation accepts the fact the virus cannot be prevented from spreading and then causing COVID-19. But health officials do what they can to mitigate the impact through treatment. "What we've been saying clearly is that containing the virus and interrupting transmission gives us an opportunity to stop the virus," Ryan said. "Accepting mitigation is the only option is to accept that the virus cannot be stopped."
But Bogoch said that if WHO officials are defining containment as the possibility that the coronavirus will not spread beyond a certain border, that they can still prevent different countries in different regions from seeing this infection, "I don't think that's very realistic. We're seeing global transmission of this infection."