Coronavirus in the lab: it is now called Covid-19 by WHO

A Clinical Virologist, Dr Adeola Fowotade, says that COVID-19’s death rate is not as high as similar outbreaks like the 2003 SARS or the 2012 MERS.

Fowotade, of the University College Hospital, Ibadan, said this on Thursday in Ibadan.

COVID-19, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) are different strains of a family of viruses known as coronavirus.

According to Fowotade, while COVID-19 is more widespread, it is not as deadly as SARS and MERS.

She also said that although the number of COVID-19 deaths has exceeded that of SARS, the death rate is not as high.

“The COVID-19 that emerged in December 2019 appears to be more severe when you look at how quickly it has infected a large number of people and freely spread from one country to others.

“It has higher transmissibility and has the potential to infect four more persons if one person is infected.

“However, COVID-19 appears to be less severe in terms of its fatality rate in comparison with SARS and MERS.

“As of March 2020, COVID-19 cases are over 120,000, with 4,635 deaths recorded, while SARS, which originated from China in 2002, didn’t spread as fast and took months to infect many people.

“SARS infected 8,096 people worldwide and killed 774 persons.

“MERS, which has killed over 800 of the 2,494 confirmed cases, spread to only 28 countries,” she said.

The virologist said that COVID-19 also had mild to moderate symptoms in most healthy people without pre-existing medical conditions.

“It is important to remember that 80 per cent of the people infected with COVID-19 present mild to moderate symptoms, while 20 per cent develop severe illnesses, like pneumonia and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

“People, who seem to be at highest risk of serious illnesses from COVID-19, are adults over the age of 60 or people who have underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

“The important message here is that: don’t panic; this too shall pass,” she said.

Fowotade stressed that everyone should continue to observe standard hygiene rules like regular hand washing.

The World Health Organisation had, on Wednesday, declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, after it had affected 124 countries and territories.