Some truths about the coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization

coronavirus china

UN News/Jing Zhang Airport workers wear face masks at China’s Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport.

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Sean Fleming, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • More than 17,000 people worldwide are infected with the novel coronavirus.
  • There have been more deaths in mainland China than during the SARS outbreak.
  • The World Health Organization has stepped up the fight against confusion and misinformation around the outbreak.

The novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, has now been detected in 23 countries, with more than 17,000 people confirmed to be infected.

The majority of people infected are located in China, where more people have now died from the new coronavirus than were killed by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003. So far, 362 people have died from the new coronavirus.

Wuhan, China – where the outbreak is believed to have started – is locked down, while the majority of border crossings into Hong Kong are now closed. And there is growing concern about the potential global spread of this new virus.

As fears and misconceptions spread online, the World Health Organization (WHO) has started a campaign to educate people on the new coronavirus.

Here are key things to know about the novel coronavirus.

Will eating lots of garlic help?

Can eating garlic help with the new coronavirus
Should I eat garlic to stay well? The World Health Organization has the answer.
Image: World Health Organization

Garlic is considered a healthy food with some antimicrobial properties – but there are no indications it’s helping anyone fight off 2019-nCoV.

Also, vaccines against pneumonia and flu do not provide protection against the novel coronavirus, says the WHO. It’s simply too new, and work on a vaccine specifically for the new virus is still in process. At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos last month, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations announced a new partnership to develop vaccines for 2019-nCoV as quickly as possible.

There are still things you can do, such as washing your hands – especially if you have been sneezing. And if you are sneezing, make sure to cover and catch that sneeze. You can cup your hands over your face, or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, or into a tissue. But make sure to securely dispose of the tissue straight away.

Are there specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus
What medicines will treat the new coronavirus?
Image: World Health Organization

Can I contract the virus from letters and packages sent from China?

No. According to the WHO, people receiving post from China are not at risk of catching the new coronavirus. The WHO knows from previous analysis that coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about epidemics?

Epidemics are a huge threat to health and the economy: the vast spread of disease can literally destroy societies.

In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and to enable access to them during outbreaks.

Our world needs stronger, unified responses to major health threats. By creating alliances and coalitions like CEPI, which involve expertise, funding and other support, we are able to collectively address the most pressing global health challenges.

Is your organisation interested in working with the World Economic Forum to tackle global health issues? Find out more here.

What about pets? Can I catch it from them?

Can pets at home spread the new cornavirus
Can you catch the novel coronavirus from your pet?
Image: World Health Organization

The 2019-nCoV may have come from animals, but your pets are not likely to be part of the equation. The WHO says, “At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus.”

There are lots of other reasons for good hygiene around pets, though. Some common bacteria can pass between animals and people, such as E.coli and Salmonella. Washing your hands with soap and water can guard against them.

Who is most at risk?

In the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, 8,422 people were infected and there were 916 deaths worldwide. The overall death rate for infected people was 11%. But for infected people 24 and younger, the death rate was just 1%, while for those aged 65+ it was 55%.

In short, anyone can catch a virus. But the effect it will have on you, and how seriously ill you might become, can be dependent on several other factors. Older people and anyone with pre-existing medical conditions, like asthma, diabetes or heart disease, appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the new coronavirus, according to the WHO.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Syria’s groundbreaking constitutional talks: ‘a clear success of mediation’ says Guterres in Turkey

10 million Yemenis ‘one step away from famine’, UN food relief agency calls for ‘unhindered access’ to frontline regions

“911, What’s your emergency?”

Nearly a third of the globe is now on Facebook – chart of the day

Climate change is forcing 20 million people a year from their homes, Oxfam says

4 ways Africa can prepare its youth for the digital economy

Germany objects to EU Commission’s plan for a Eurozone bank deposits insurance scheme but Berlin could go along

Alcohol abuse kills three million people a year, most of them men – WHO report

2013, a Political Odyssey: What future for Italy?

This is why mental health should be a political priority

Commission welcomes European Parliament adoption of EU4Health programme

Commission welcomes agreement on the modernisation of EU export controls

7 ways to break the fast fashion habit – and save the planet

ECB again to subsidize euro area banks with more than one trillion euro

Thomas Cook bankruptcy: Better consumer and employee protection needed

MWC 2016 LIVE: Ingenu steps up efforts to build LPWA networks across the globe

Greener tourism: Greater collaboration needed to tackle rising emissions

How digital entrepreneurs will help shape the world after the COVID-19 pandemic

MEPs back plans to promote water reuse for agricultural irrigation

The ECB proposes a swift solution for SMEs’ financing

Working fewer hours makes you more efficient. Here’s the proof

COVID-19: A coordinated EU health strategy needed, say MEPs

‘BioSolar Leaves’ are better at cleaning the air than trees, say the technology’s developers

EU leaders agree to delay Brexit until 31 October

Yemen war ‘a test of our humanity’, and we’re ‘badly failing’ warns UN Children’s Fund chief

German Presidency outlines priorities to EP committees

The refugee crisis seen through the eyes of a young doctor from Turkey

EU, Latin America and the Caribbean: Partnering for prosperity, democracy, resilience and global governance

Collective action to enable sustainable growth will be critical to end tropical deforestation

Adoption of new rules to better protect children caught in cross-border parental disputes

Arrest of three Libyans wanted for grave crimes ‘would send strong and necessary message’ to victims, urges top Prosecutor

State aid: Commission approves around €36 million Romanian rescue aid to state-owned flag carrier TAROM

COVID-19: from the chaos of the pandemic to the difficulties in vaccination

Ecofin: ‘The Friday battle’ for the banking union

Haiti cholera outbreak ‘stopped in its tracks’

The UK option: An overarching alternative for the whole Brexit options

Security Council gravely concerned by Ebola outbreak in DR Congo, demands immediate end to violence hampering response

Here’s how to achieve growth in the Middle East and North Africa

Civil society groups matter for Cambodia’s sustainable development: UN expert

European Institute of Innovation and Technology: Commission welcomes political agreement on strategy for 2021-2027

The von der Leyen Commission: for a Union that strives for more

Number of MEPs to be reduced after EU elections in 2019

The challenge of palliative care in universal health coverage

The world needs carbon-neutral flying. Here’s how to bring it one step closer

Facts, not fear, will stop COVID-19 – so how should we talk about it?

Concorde is a reminder that the only way for innovation is up

Parlamentarians to “break up” with reality in the Google antitrust case

Implementation of tax transparency initiative delivering concrete and impressive results

The world has made spectacular progress in every measure of well-being. So why does almost no one know about it?

EU guidance on the handling of visa applications from residents of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions

MEPs to prioritise environment and climate action in next long-term budget

GDP growth slows in most G20 economies in third quarter of 2019

This is why retail is such a sore point in India-US trade relations

Khashoggi murder trials must public and meet international standards, UN expert urges

UN chief seeking ‘renewed commitment’ to global rules and values, as world leaders head to New York

Agriculture and Fisheries Council

A reality check on inclusive innovation

Austerity lovers to put a break on Renzi’s growth vision for Europe? the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

This man is turning cities into giant sponges to save lives

4 key trends on how COVID has impacted women in business

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s