World • 31 January, 2020

Coronavirus declared global health emergency - WHO

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The new coronavirus has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization. 

 

The second meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) regarding the outbreak of novel coronavirus 2019 in the People’s Republic of China, with exportations to other countries, took place on Thursday, 30 January 2020 in Geneva.

At least 213 people have died in China, with almost 10,000 cases of the virus. The WHO said there had been 98 cases in 18 other countries, but no deaths.

The Committee welcomed the leadership and political commitment of the very highest levels of Chinese government, their commitment to transparency, and the efforts made to investigate and contain the current outbreak. China quickly identified the virus and shared its sequence, so that other countries could diagnose it quickly and protect themselves, which has resulted in the rapid development of diagnostic tools, The Committee said.

It also acknowledged that there are still many unknowns, cases have now been reported in five WHO regions in one month, and human-to-human transmission has occurred outside Wuhan and outside China.  

The Committee emphasized that the declaration of a PHEIC should be seen in the spirit of support and appreciation for China, its people, and the actions China has taken on the frontlines of this outbreak, with transparency, and, it is to be hoped, with success. In line with the need for global solidarity, the Committee felt that a global coordinated effort is needed to enhance preparedness in other regions of the world that may need additional support for that.

It is expected that further international exportation of cases may appear in any country. Thus, all countries should be prepared for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of 2019-nCoVinfection, and to share full data with WHO. 

Countries are reminded that they are legally required to share information with WHO under the IHR. 

 

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