The number of new coronavirus cases dropped for the second straight day Wednesday, but health experts weren’t saying it was time to relax.
“This outbreak could still go in any direction,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Ghebreyesus said, adding that what appeared to be a slowdown in new cases should be met with “extreme caution.”
He said he welcomed the global community of researchers for their “positive response … to come up with concrete plans and commitment to work together” to battle the virus.
The head of the WHO’s emergency program, Mike Ryan, also gave credit to what he said was the “huge public health operation in China … that gives us an opportunity for containment.”
Only 1% of the more than 45,000 confirmed cases were outside China, along with just one of the 1,300 deaths.
But Ryan refused to predict “the beginning, the middle or the end” of the crisis.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called on Communist Party leaders to keep up the fight against the coronavirus while he unveiled measures to stimulate the country’s economy, which has been weakened by the deadly virus.
“The results are hard-won progress made by all sides,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported Xi as saying. He also noted the campaign to prevent and control the virus had reached “a critical stage that requires stringent efforts.”
Xi urged party leaders to work toward achieving this year’s social development and economic goals, and he ordered tax cuts, rent reductions and other measures to bolster the country’s weakened economy.
The death toll from the coronavirus was higher than that of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002-03, which is believed to have killed 774 people and sickened nearly 8,100 in China and Hong Kong.