The medical community is sounding the alarm that the deadly coronavirus epidemic will soon herald an unmanageable explosion of cases, according to Science Direct. The dire warning comes as the number of infected individuals globally reached over 79,000, as well as 2,470 deaths.
"We are still in a phase where containment is possible [but] our window of opportunity is narrowing," claimed World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Though the illness had previously been almost entirely exclusive to China, with just a handful of cases reported internationally, a rapidly growing number of cases are appearing in countries such as Italy and the United Kingdom. In the latter country, four people were recently reported infected; in the former, three people sadly passed away.
In the European theater, the disease appears to be particularly prevalent in Italy, where 12 of its northern towns -- which contain a collective 50,000 individuals -- are currently on lockdown after 150 reported cases. As a result, Austria has blocked all train travel between the German-speaking nation and its southern neighbor.
Even the World Health Organization weighed in on the growing number of cases in the Mediterranean nation.
"The rapid increase in reported cases in Italy over the past two days is of concern," WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic admitted (via The Daily Mail).
Italy is far from the only country to be dealing with the crisis. South Korea has also reported seven deaths and 763 infected individuals. Iran has also suffered eight fatalities.
Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, voiced his concern at the weekend developments, pointing to other recent statements by WHO that have warned of the need to solve the coronavirus crisis quickly before it gets even further out of hand
"The director general of the WHO has recently spoken of a narrowing of the window of opportunity to control the current epidemic. The tipping point after which our ability to prevent a global pandemic ends seems a lot closer after the past 24 hours," Hunter said.
Dr Robin Thompson, a junior research fellow in mathematical epidemiology at the University of Oxford, had a similar take on the growing disaster.
'This is an important stage of the coronavirus outbreak... Fast isolation of even mild cases in affected areas is important for preventing substantial person-to-person transmission," he claimed.
The one silver lining in the epidemic is that cases in China -- where the virus originated -- appear to be decelerating after claiming thousands of lives. However, The Inquisitr noted that experts worry that the Middle Kingdom might be underreporting cases, especially after four Chinese prisons suffered from recent outbreaks.