Coronavirus is ten times more deadly than swine flu, says WHO
Updated 19:41, 14-Apr-2020

The novel coronavirus has turned out to be ten times deadlier than the swine flu, said the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday.

The new coronavirus has already infected over 1.91 million and killed more than 119,000 as of April 14, making it much more contagious than the swine flu pandemic in 2009.

The swine flu pandemic caused by the H1N1 virus first detected in Mexico infected 1.6 million and killed 18,449 between January 2009 and August 2010.

Since a majority of developing countries couldn't accurately report the exact number of deaths, researchers tried to estimate the precise mortality rate of the swine flu.

A study by the Lancet Infectious Diseases released in September 2012 calculated the deaths in the range of 151,700 and 575,400; most of the unreported cases were from South East Asia and Africa.

In contrast, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which is still to reach its peak in many countries, is likely to cause two million cases in the coming weeks. 

"We know that COVID-19 spreads fast, and we know that it is deadly – 10 times deadlier than the 2009 flu pandemic," announced Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO at a virtual briefing on the coronavirus pandemic.

"As we have said many times before, this is a new virus, and the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus," he added.

The number of cases has doubled in just three to four days in some countries, overwhelming hospitals. Globally, coronavirus cases approaching two million have doubled in only 11 days, requiring countries to take more precautions to control the ongoing pandemic.

"While COVID-19 accelerates very fast, it decelerates much more slowly, warned Tedros. Such a high rate of transmission has made the lockdown and stay at home orders in countries having large populations a tough measure to implement.

The WHO also urged governments' to cautiously lift restrictions imposed to tackle the pandemic. "Control measures can only be lifted if the right public health measures are in place, including a significant capacity for contact tracing," Tedros said.  

In order to assist countries in deciding on easing the restriction and re-start the economy, the WHO will soon release a new strategy. 

The strategy includes six criteria: controlling the transmission, a robust health system, minimizing outbreak risk in hospitals, preventive measures in offices and educational institutes, tackling imported cases, and readying the community to adjust to the norm of social distancing.

(Cover: Customers receive temperature check at a restaurant in Hong Kong Tuesday, April 14, 2020. /AP)