WHO officials warn health systems are ‘collapsing’ under coronavirus: ‘This isn’t just a bad flu season’

March 20, 2020 / William Feuer

World Health Organization officials warned Friday against dismissing the coronavirus that’s swept across the globe as just a bad outbreak of the flu, saying it has overwhelmed health systems around the world in just a few weeks.

“Take one look at what’s happening in some health systems around the world. Look at the intensive care units completely overwhelmed. Doctors and nurses utterly exhausted,” Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program, said at a press briefing from the organization’s Geneva headquarters. “This is not normal. This isn’t just a bad flu season.”

The virus has now infected more than 254,000 people and killed at least 10,444 people across the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. Last week, the WHO declared that Europe had become the new epicenter of the outbreak, which began in Wuhan, China in December.

Ryan estimated that more than 26 million health-care workers may end up treating COVID-19 patients, and there’s a shortage of protective equipment for them.

“These are health systems that are collapsing under the pressure of too many cases,” he said, adding that the supply chain for personal protective gear like masks, gloves and gowns is under immense pressure. “It’s safe to say that the supply chain is under huge pressure,” he said.


Chris J. Stewart

Chris currently serves as President and CEO of Surgio Health. Chris has close to 20 years of healthcare management experience, with an infinity to improve healthcare delivery through the development and implementation of innovative solutions that result in improved efficiencies, reduction of unnecessary financial & clinical variation, and help achieve better patient outcomes. Previously, Chris was assistant vice president and business unit leader for HPG/HCA. He has presented at numerous healthcare forums on topics that include disruptive innovation, physician engagement, shifting reimbursement models, cost per clinical episode and the future of supply chain delivery.

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