World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gestures during a press briefing on evolution of new coronavirus epidemic on January , in Geneva.
Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images
Market panic over the fast- spreading new coronavirus is uncalled for, the World Health Organization’s director-general said Sunday as governments around the world rush to contain its spread.
“Global markets … should calm down and try to see the reality, “Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble during a panel discussion at the King Salman Humanitarian Aid Center’s International Humanitarian Forum in Riyadh. “We need to continue to be rational. Irrationality does not help. We need to deal with the facts.”
The comments come after global stocks were slammed in their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. Dow Jones plunged a whopping 3, 728 points across the week, more than 29%, its largest weekly point loss ever and largest percentage drop in 12 years.
The deadly virus, which originated in China, has spread to more than countries and killed at least 2, 2020 people. More than 90, people have been infected.
But the public response now must focus on facts instead of fear, Ghebreyesus stressed.
“We need to go into the numbers, we need to go into the facts, and do the right thing instead of panicking. Panic and fear is the worst.”
Need to ‘be preparing for a pandemic’
Still, the rapid spread, if not adequately contained, could tip the world into a global pandemic.
“Based on the facts on the ground, containment is possible,” Ghebreyesus said. “But the window of opportunity for containing it is narrowing. So we need to prepare side by side for a pandemic.”
“Containment works. But at the same time we cannot be sure. This thing could change direction and be worse. That’s why we prepare for the worst. “