WHO: Coronavirus death rate jumps; 'dangerous' supply shortage could put healthcare workers at risk

The fatality rate among patients infected with COVID-19 is around 3.4 percent, compared to a previous 2.3 percent estimate, USA Today reports. 

Outbreak updates:

1. COVID-19 is more lethal and contagious than the flu, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said March 3. The U.S. death rate for the flu is less than 1 percent.

"While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity," Dr. Tedros said. "That means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease."

2. 128 cases have been reported in the U.S., along with nine related deaths, all in Washington state, as of 9 a.m., March 4. Eight people have recovered from the disease. 

3. A "dangerous" shortage of global supplies is endangering patients and healthcare workers, WHO said, according to USA Today. The agency blamed an increasing disruption to the supply of masks, respirators and gloves on panic buying, hoarding and misuse, and called for a 40 percent production increase.  

"Without secure supply chains, the risk to healthcare workers around the world is real," Dr. Tedros said. 

4. Cases in Washington state could see explosive growth unless dramatic action is taken, according to a new analysis cited by STAT. Computational biologist Trevor Bedford, author of the analysis, said there are likely already at least 500 to 600 COVID-19 cases in the Seattle area. He believes the cases have spread undetected because many experience only mild infections, and because of problems with the CDC's test kits for state and local labs.

5. Over 50 percent of top U.S. hospitals lack sufficient infection control practices to fight COVID-19, a ProPublica analysis found.  

6. A COVID-19 vaccine won't be ready for at least a year, public health leaders told senators March 3, according to USA Today.

7. Facebook is giving WHO free advertising to stop misinformation, USA Today reports. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is working with organizations like WHO, the CDC and UNICEF to get out timely and accurate information.  

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