Mar 5, 2020 - Health

WHO sounds alarm on coronavirus: "This is not a drill"

Woman in mask
Photo: A traveler wears a medical mask at Grand Central Station in NYC. Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

China may have at least temporarily beaten back the coronavirus, but the World Health Organization is sounding the alarm for everyone else.

Driving the news: "This is not a drill. ... This is a time for pulling out all the stops," its top official said today. "Countries have been planning for scenarios like this for decades. Now is the time to act on those plans."

  • Right on cue, Congress reached a bipartisan $8 billion deal to provide emergency funding for outbreak response.

Why it matters: There are 17x as many new infections outside China as in it right now, the AP reports.

  • China appears to have slowed the virus thanks to a severe regimen of quarantines and testing.

In Europe and North America, a less severe strategy is unfolding:

  • Italy has closed schools and soccer stadiums. It also asked people to stay 3 feet apart and avoid nursing homes, but that is being widely ignored, the AP reports.
  • Schools have closed in a school district outside Seattle, and hundreds of New Yorkers are in self-quarantine. California, Florida and Washington state have each declared a state of emergency.

Between the lines: March is spring break season for American colleges. Many an administrator is probably dreading the prospect of infected students returning to campus.

  • Meanwhile, parents of American study abroad students are facing surprise costs and the logistical challenges of getting their kids home from affected countries.

The big picture: The economic pain of the coronavirus response seems to be just beginning, with targeted pain for the airline, hospitality, media and events industries.

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